Every vitamin plays a role in your health. Vitamin D is an important vitamin in your health and is responsible for helping your body absorb calcium, maintaining strong bones, modulating the immune system, preventing osteoporosis and rickets, and regulating cell growth and genes. When you have a vitamin D deficiency, it can cause all sorts of side effects and can impact your dental health. As we enter into the darkest time of the year here in Anchorage, AK, many people might be suffering from vitamin D deficiencies which can impact overall health and dental health. It’s estimated that nearly 40 to 70% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency.
Most people know that vitamin D is important for healthy teeth and bones, but many of us fail to get adequate amounts. This is a friendly reminder to our patients – especially expectant mothers – about the importance of vitamin D.
Vitamin D Deficiency
If you don’t consume enough vitamin D in your diet or get outside enough, you might suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiencies are common in people who eat a vegan diet or suffer from milk allergies or lactose intolerance. The body creates vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight so if you don’t see much sun, like during the winter months here in Alaska, you’re at a higher risk of having a vitamin D deficiency.
When you have a deficiency, it can lead to health problems such as:
- Severe asthma in children
- Cognitive impairment
- Higher risk of death with cardiovascular disease
- Implant failure
Getting the right amount of vitamin D can help you prevent certain conditions like both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, and hypertension.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
A few factors can cause a vitamin D deficiency including:
- Not Eating Recommended Levels – The most natural sources of vitamin D come from animal-based products like egg yolks, beef liver, fish and fish oil, and fortified milk.
- Limited Sun Exposure – If your skin never sees the sun, there’s no opportunity for your body to make vitamin D. When you’re outside, let your skin get some sun exposure but not to the point where you get a sunburn.
- Dark Skin – If your skin is a darker shade, it’s more difficult for your skin to absorb the sunlight exposure to create vitamin D.
- Age – As you age, your kidneys no longer function the same way. One of the ways their function changes is by no longer being able to convert vitamin D to its active form.
- Medical Problems – Medical conditions like Celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease make it difficult for your intestine to absorb vitamin D from the food you consume.
To find out if you have a deficiency, your doctor will need to test your blood.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Unless you regularly get blood tests from your doctor, you won’t know you have a vitamin D deficiency unless you recognize its symptoms. Some side effects include:
- Getting sick often or easily
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Back and bone pain
- Bone loss
- Hair loss
- Impaired wound healing
- Muscle pain
- Tooth deformities in children
- Development delays in children
If you notice any of these symptoms, it might be a good idea to get tested for a vitamin D deficiency. It might be impacting your life in a large way without you even realizing it.
Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency
Once you discover that you have a vitamin D deficiency, it’s actually quite easy to treat it. Your treatment will depend on how high of a deficiency you have. In most cases, people only need to take supplements and increase their intake of certain foods like fish and milk. Working with a doctor to find out how deficient you are is helpful in your treatment.
How Vitamin D Deficiency Affects Your Dental Health
One of the ways your body keeps your mouth healthy is by fighting harmful bacteria. Vitamin D is one of the vitamins responsible for making this happen. When you have a vitamin D deficiency, your body can’t fight off bacteria or infections as easily which puts you at a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Possible Implant Failure with Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can also impact your body’s ability to heal wounds. If you’re getting dental implants, your body will need all hands on deck to ensure it heals properly. With a vitamin D deficiency, your body is at a higher risk of implant failure. This is for several reasons. For one, your body can’t fight off infection as well. This means if your implant gets infected or you have gum disease, there’s a greater chance that your body doesn’t fight it off and your implant fails.
Vitamin D is also important for bone healing after surgery. If you don’t have a strong jaw bone, osseointegration won’t occur. Osseointegration is essential for the implant staying in place in the jaw.
If you’re thinking of getting dental implants, it’s a good idea to find out if you have healthy vitamin D levels beforehand. Simply taking supplements during the healing process of your dental implant procedure can help ensure your dental implants don’t fail.
During this dark winter season, make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to prevent vitamin D deficiency in addition to Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you’re interested in replacing your missing teeth with dental implants or want to learn more about dental implant failure, please contact our dental office in Anchorage for a consultation with Dr. Kendall Skinner at Excellence in Dentistry by calling (907) 349-0022 today.