Ask your dentist about the silent global pandemic of Vitamin D Deficiency

Dentists are being encouraged to take urgent action to help eliminate the ignored Silent Global Pandemic of Vitamin D Deficiency (VDD), beginning pre-conception. VDD causes massive global pain, suffering and death. VDD can dramatically affect teeth, bone, malocclusion and overall health, even in utero.

For nearly a century, vitamin D, called the “sunshine vitamin”, was thought to only be needed for development of teeth and bones. Controlled trials in the 1920s to 1940s showed the significant benefits of vitamin D in reducing dental cavities. It was later discovered that vitamin D promoted production of cathelicidin which kills bacteria, including those that cause tooth decay. For over a decade, it has been published that vitamin D plays a critical role in innate and adaptive immunity and a giant role in lifelong oral and overall health.

Studies now show that vitamin D has hundreds of actions within the body including anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-pain, anti-inflammation and anti-depression. Vitamin D reportedly has receptors in every cell in the body.

It is now known that maternal VDD can lead to a multitude of oral and overall birth to death disorders from dental disease to later schizophrenia. Maternal and early childhood VDD can lead to severe early childhood tooth decay, early tooth loss, malformed teeth that cannot support orthodontic brackets, malocclusion and small or malformed jaw bones.

VDD increases the risk of premature tooth and bone loss and poor healing after treatments that place forces on bone like orthodontics, orthopaedics, dental implants and oral or periodontal surgery. VDD can affect oral and overall health for a lifetime. Proper serum vitamin D levels can provide an internal layer of infection protection that may be superior to abundant external infection control procedures.

Vitamin D levels before hospital admission have been shown to determine in-hospital survival. Research has shown that length of hospital stay, sepsis risk and risk of in-hospital death can be determined by pre-admission vitamin D levels. Since there are over 300 ways VDD can make a person sick or die and many of those ways need in-hospital care, treating VDD before hospital admission should be a priority.

A well-documented Silent Global Pandemic of Vitamin D Deficiency (VDD) exists today. Most people have VDD because they spend little time in the sun or get little “sensible” sun exposure and they have been told to use sunscreen if in sunlight.

Also, the vitamin D RDA may be set much too low. Most people have never been tested or frequently tested for VDD. A vitamin D test is not usually included in a routine comprehensive blood test and is often shunned due to the cost and lack of insurance coverage.

VDD is estimated to affect one billion people worldwide and 70-80% of people in the U.S. The range is 5% to 99% depending on age, gender, race, studied group, location, etc. For instance, in 2012 researchers published findings that 95.6% of breast cancer patients had VDD. In 2014, researchers found 99% of women with breast cancer had VDD. Since VDD has been so missed, dismissed and ignored, it is urgent that dental doctors begin to help solve the VDD crisis. They can do so and practice within the standard of care because vitamin D is critical to good oral health and overall health.

It is time to prepare for a generation of healthier children beginning 2-3 months preconception, because it takes at least 2 to 3 months to raise a VDD blood level to a stable replete serum D blood level.

It is time for Medical Dentistry to grasp the century old research and take urgent action to globally end VDD. Since most people have VDD, they should:

  1. Get tested for Vitamin D. If not, or if below the 30 ng/ml level discuss Vitamin D supplements with their doctor.
  2. After 8 weeks of taking the recommended dose, request a Vitamin D test from your doctor and adjust supplement intake according to medical advice. Research shows it is important to start raising Vitamin D blood levels as soon as possible because most everyone has VDD and it takes 2 months to get stable levels. This is even more important since flu vaccine disease protection is known to vary each year and vitamin D has been found to be effective against the flu. So boosting the immune system for oral health may have other benefits too.

Dental doctors and their staff should also recommend pre-conception and pre-birth whole nutrition counselling. This is a big step in the new era of early preventive Medical Dentistry.

A few cultures worldwide urge parents to go on special nutritious diets for months before conception, not just after conception, to increase the chances for a healthy full term baby. This action makes good nutritional sense.

Our modern society emphasizes good nutrition, vitamins and avoidance of drugs, smoking and alcohol after conception, but it does not promote the vital need to have nutritionally whole parents pre-conception. Simple and cheap to treat vitamin deficiencies (A, B, C, D, etc) have been shown to cause bone deformities, cleft palates and much more.

As already noted, dental malocclusion and tooth malformation often accompany vitamin D deficiency rickets which is becoming much more common again. Those looking to conceive should consult with a nutritionist before conception in order to help insure optimum fertilization, implantation and fetal growth and development.

By Dr David Page