According to a release from the University of Washington, a new review of existing studies points toward a potential role for vitamin D in helping to prevent dental caries, or tooth decay.

The review, published in the December issue of Nutrition Reviews, included 24 controlled clinical trials, from the 1920s to the 1980s, on approximately 3,000 children in several countries. The trials showed that vitamin D was associated with an approximately 50 percent reduction in the incidence of tooth decay.

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

According to Hujoel, the role of vitamin D in supporting bone health has not been disputed, but significant disagreement has historically existed over its role in preventing caries.

The American Medical Association and the U.S. National Research Council concluded around 1950 that vitamin D was beneficial in managing dental caries. The American Dental Association said otherwise – based on the same evidence. In 1989, the National Research Council, despite new evidence supporting vitamin D's caries-fighting benefits, called the issue "unresolved."

Current reviews by the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. Department of Human Health and Service and the American Dental Association draw no conclusions on the vitamin D evidence as it relates to dental caries.

"Such inconsistent conclusions by different organizations do not make much sense from an evidence-based perspective," Hujoel said. The trials he reviewed increased vitamin D levels in children through the use of supplemental UV radiation or by supplementing the children's diet with cod-liver oil or other products containing the vitamin.

As the release states, the clinical trials he reviewed were conducted in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Austria, New Zealand and Sweden. Trials were conducted in institutional settings, schools, medical and dental practices, or hospitals. The subjects were children or young adults between the ages of two and 16 years, with a weighted mean age of 10 years.

Hujoel added a note of caution to his findings: "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. "


Commenter's Profile Image Jen Lindblad
December 5th, 2012
Recent blood tests revealed I have a Vitamin D deficiency, and I've been having more decay in my teeth. I didn't realize they were related. Good article post!