Everyone knows calcium helps keep your bones strong, and strong bones are an important part of your overall health.  But did you know that your calcium intake also plays a role in the health and strength of your teeth?  Calcium is a mineral, and it’s one of the most abundant in your body with 99% being found in the teeth and bones.  In your teeth, calcium is found as a hydroxyapatite which is made up of both calcium and phosphate.  The two combine during tooth development to form the hard tooth structure.  Vitamin D plays a key role in the balancing of the calcium and phosphate absorption in the body, as well as the calcium absorption in tooth development.  So, what does all of this mean for the health of your teeth, and what could be the effect if you have a calcium deficiency?

What is a Calcium Deficiency?

Hypocalcemia is the medical term for an electrolyte imbalance and shows up as low levels of calcium in the blood.  Calcium levels that are too low can lead to osteoporosis, fragile bones, and osteopenia, precursor of osteoporosis.  Symptoms start out mild and can include weak or brittle nails, muscle problems like aches or cramps, and even extreme fatigue.  These symptoms may not be easily detected at first, but over time can cause more serious health issues.

Unfortunately, most of us do not get the amount of calcium that is recommended.  Not everyone needs the same amount of calcium and the recommendations vary based on sex and age.  For instance, children and pregnant women need more calcium than adults.  If you are concerned about your calcium intake needs, please discuss your specific needs with a medical professional.

The body naturally rebuilds calcium to compensate for natural breakdown as we use our bones and teeth. In a healthy individual, this recover process happens quickly and the depletion is brief. During childhood, it is especially imperative that enough calcium is given to growing children, as this sets a person up for healthy calcium levels later in life. As the body ages, medications are introduced, hormones change, or an intolerance to calcium-rich foods develop, the levels of calcium in your body are compromised. This is when calcium can start to become deficient. As calcium depletes, the teeth become compromised.

Calcium Deficiency Effects on Your Teeth and Mouth

When the levels of calcium in the body diminish, the body uses calcium from the teeth leading to tooth decay or tooth loss. As previously mentioned, one of the main diseases that comes out of a long-term calcium deficiency is osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis does not just affect your bones.  It can also affect your teeth, as it can cause the jaw bone to weaken.  Your jaw bone is the anchor for your teeth, so if it becomes damaged or weak; it is more likely your teeth will loosen and possibly fall out.  Along with osteoporosis, a deficient level of calcium can increase your risk of periodontal, or gum, disease.  If you start noticing an increase in cavities or chipped teeth, it is time reach out to a dentist.

Diet, the Remineralization Process, and Good Dental Health

Your diet is so important when it comes to helping you maintain optimal calcium levels in your body and mouth.  Foods rich in calcium, such as milk, broccoli, spinach, and other fortified foods, will help you get the level of calcium you need and help to protect your teeth by maintaining strong bones, as well as ideal calcium levels in your saliva.

The calcium in our saliva is needed to drive the remineralization of teeth following acid challenges, such as sugary or acidic foods and drinks.  These acid challenges result in the loss of minerals from the enamel of our teeth.  Brushing your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste that helps strengthen the enamel or your teeth is recommended, as well as flossing at least once a day to help remove plaque and food debris between teeth and along the gum line.

Visit Your East Tennessee General Dentist

Scheduling routine dental check ups with your dentist can help detect issues before they become serious.  At University General Dentists, we see patients of all ages and in all states of dental health.  With a combined over 75 years of experience, our dentists offer a variety of preventative, cosmetic, and restorative procedures.  We take pride in providing a personalized approach to your dental needs, and look forward to help you achieve a healthy, happy smile!  Call us today to schedule your appointment at one of our two Knoxville, TN, locations in the University of Tennessee Medical Center at 865-305-9440 or the West Knoxville clinic at 865-500-5700.