Consumption of sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D is particularly crucial for developing healthy teeth. In this study, we investigated the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on oral health in schoolchildren at risk from dental caries.
What was done: Two randomized clinical trials were performed to investigate the effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation taken alone or in combination. Study subjects were 542 children aged 8-11 years who are eligible for general dental care.
Studies were conducted from May through December 2007 at three elementary schools in Seoul, Korea. One school participated in the single-nutrient supplement trial (vitamin D group), while one school participated in the combined calcium and vitamin D supplementation trial (combined treatment group). The third neighboring school served as a control .
Study design: The vitamin D group and combined treatment group were given single-nutrient supplements containing 1000 IU of vitamin D (one capsule) together with 500 mg calcium carbonate per day for six months.
The control school received no supplement throughout the study period. Children in all three groups were encouraged to maintain regular oral hygiene habits, including brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. Parents were instructed to allow their children to use the school drinking water and provided with an oral health education program by dentists visiting the schools. Teeth were examined using standardized dental examinations, including visual examination for cavities, before treatment was started and after six months of treatment.
Nov. 12, 2011 update : Recently published epidemiologic evidence from a large-scale trial in New Zealand found that supplementation with vitamin D can markedly reduce the frequency of dental cavities in children .
“Children who received vitamin D supplements had fewer new cases of tooth decay or gum disease and needed less treatment for those conditions than children who didn’t take them,” said the study leader, Dr. Ian Reid of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.
The children were randomly assigned to receive either vitamin D or a placebo (i.e., a “fake” pill) for one year during summer vacations when there is little potential for sun exposure. The children were not, however, told which pill they received.
At the end of the year, children receiving the vitamin D pills had substantially less tooth decay and gum disease than those taking placebos .
What was learned? Supplementation with calcium or vitamin D alone was not significantly effective for preventing dental caries. In the combined treatment, children taking both supplements had a significantly lower risk of dental cavities. Children who took only calcium or vitamin D had a higher risk of dental cavities. From this study we learned that calcium and vitamin D work together to help prevent tooth decay in young children.
Conclusion: These results suggest that combined use of vitamin D and calcium supplementation can reduce dental caries incidence in young children. In the future, additional studies should confirm whether this effect is sustained when supplemented for longer periods.