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Vitamin D could Prevent Tooth Decay: Study

Update Date: Nov 28, 2012 06:11 AM EST

An analysis of existing studies suggests that vitamin D could have the potential to prevent dental caries or tooth decay.

The researchers, before concluding the study, analyzed 24 controlled clinical trials, between the years 1920 and 1980, in which approximately 3,000 children from several countries had participated. After the analysis, the researchers have concluded that vitamin D could help prevent tooth decay in 50 percent of the cases.

"My main goal was to summarize the clinical trial database so that we could take a fresh look at this vitamin D question," said Dr. Philippe Hujoel of the University of Washington, who conducted the review.

While it is already known that vitamin D plays a significant role in enhancing bone health, its contribution in preventing caries is still disputed, Hujoel noted.

There have been different and conflicting conclusions drawn from researchers and studies conducted by the American Medical Association, U.S. National Research Council, and the American Dental Association.  

"Such inconsistent conclusions by different organizations do not make much sense from an evidence-based perspective," Hujoel said.

The trials reviewed by Hujoel used supplemental UV radiation or supplementing diet with cod-liver oil or other products in order to increase vitamin D intake in children.

Also, children were aged between 2 and 16 years, and were aged 10 on an average. The findings of Hujoel's studies are not new for researchers who have earlier come across or involved themselves in vitamin D studies.

"The findings from the University of Washington reaffirm the importance of vitamin D for dental health. Children who are vitamin D deficient have poor and delayed teeth eruption and are prone to dental caries," Dr. Michael Hollick, professor of medicine at the Boston University Medical Center, said.

In the current scenario, research on the dental benefits of vitamin D seems to be important, considering the fact that decreased levels of the vitamin are found in people, while there are an increasing number of children with dental caries.

"Whether this is more than just a coincidence is open to debate," Hujoel said. "In the meantime, pregnant women or young mothers can do little harm by realizing that vitamin D is essential to their offspring's health. Vitamin D does lead to teeth and bones that are better mineralized."

However, Hujoel warned, "One has to be careful with the interpretation of this systematic review. The trials had weaknesses which could have biased the result, and most of the trial participants lived in an era that differs profoundly from today's environment. "

Hujoel has joint appointments as a professor in the University of Washington School of Dentistry's Department of Oral Health Sciences and as an adjunct professor of epidemiology in the UW School of Public Health.

The review appears in the December issue of Nutrition Reviews.

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