Calcium Deficiency: Teeth Signs and Symptoms
Calcium is by far one of the most abundant minerals in the body. 99% of it is found in bones and teeth. However, in teeth, it is found in the form of hydroxyapatite, a compound that is made up of calcium and phosphate (1).
When teeth are developing, calcium and phosphate combine to form a tooth (one of the hardest structures in the body). Just like vitamin D is great for healthy bones it is also vital for healthy tooth development.
Vitamin D helps in the absorption of phosphate and calcium in the body. In babies, the formation of the hydroxyapatite (a process known as mineralisation), occurs during the first four months in the uterus. The formation of permanent teeth begins at birth and enters its final stages at around 13 years.
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What is Calcium Deficiency?
Calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcaemia, is a condition where the levels of calcium in the blood are low. Low calcium levels are dangerous as they put you at risk of developing osteoporosis, a medical condition where the bones become weak and fragile as a result of insufficient vitamin D or calcium. Low calcium levels also put you at risk of developing osteopenia – a condition which leads to osteoporosis (a reduction in bone density) and hormonal changes.
In the US, dentists recommend that persons between age 14 and 18 years consume 1300mg of calcium daily, those from 9 to 17 years, 1000mg, whereas those above 71 years, 1200mg (2).
People who are lactose intolerant, vegans, women with amenorrhea and post-menopausal women are at a higher risk of having calcium-related conditions.
What Happens to Your Teeth When Calcium Levels are Low?
Calcium in the teeth and bones is naturally eroded. Usually, the body makes up for this erosion by replacing the lost calcium, which translates to healthy bones and teeth despite the constant wear and tear.
However, if for some reason the calcium in your teeth erodes faster than your body can replace it, you begin to notice some abnormalities in your health. For starters, you may notice that you have more cavities than usual despite having a strict brushing regimen, and increased tooth mobility. Your teeth also tend to break and chip easily.
But on the brighter side, these effects can be reversed by helping your body replace the eroded calcium.
There are a couple of reasons why you would have low calcium levels in your blood. The first and most common cause is the insufficient intake of calcium and Vitamin D for a long time. To have enough vitamin D in your body, you need to bask in the sun for at least 15 minutes every day.
Another cause of calcium deficiency is hypoparathyroidism. This can be caused by an autoimmune disease, surgery or genetics.
Liver problems and renal disease can also lead to insufficient absorption of vitamin D and consequently a deficiency in calcium.
Other conditions that may lead to calcium deficiency include hypermagnesemia, Fanconi syndrome, hypomagnesemia, and sclerotic metastases.
How to Treat Calcium Deficiency
Treating calcium deficiency depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the resulting condition. For some mild cases, a simple diet change will suffice. Calcium supplements are another quick fix. However, before you start using calcium supplements, it’s important that you consult your doctor about the dosage since too much calcium can be problematic as well.
Make sure you do not take in excess of 500mg of supplements on a daily basis. And in case you have been doing so, be on the lookout for calcium toxicity, including calcium deposits. It’s also worth noting that calcium supplements should be supplemented by magnesium supplements. The magnesium prevents the calcium from dissolving in your blood and getting deposited in tissues.
Strengthening the Enamel
Strengthening the enamel requires an increased calcium level in your body. According to the ADA (American Dental Association), you should consume lots of yoghurt and unsweetened milk products (3). Consuming foods that are high in calcium helps in fortifying and protecting the teeth against erosion.
But if you are still not getting enough calcium, you should consider calcium supplements outlined above. You can also switch to a toothpaste that is designed to replenish and strengthen tooth enamel.
Diet and the Remineralisation and Demineralisation Process
Eating a healthy diet is super important to keep your calcium levels at their optimal levels. Prioritise foods such as yoghurts, cheese, sardines, milk, spinach, calcium-fortified foods, sesame seeds, fortified beans and cereals, broccoli, kale, and salmon.
Calcium is important as it helps in remineralisation of your teeth after acid changes, which may cause mineral loss.
What to Avoid in Your Diet
You should stay away from foods that have a lot of salts like processed meats, fast foods like tacos, burgers and fries, processed foods, baked products, and regular canned vegetables and soups. You also need to avoid soft drinks as they lack calcium and even worse, tend to rob the bones and teeth of their calcium.
How Common is Calcium Deficiency?
Unfortunately, the prevalence of calcium deficiency disease is not well established. However, there is a lot of information on persons who are most at risk. The people at the highest risk are teenagers, older adults, minorities and overweight people.
Good Dental Health
We recommend that you brush your teeth twice every day using fluoride toothpaste, which has both phosphate and calcium. Fluoride toothpaste helps in strengthening the enamel and replenishing it.
Flossing daily before bedtime is also great practice as it helps you get rid of food debris and plaque stuck between your teeth and on the gum line. If you notice symptoms of calcium deficiency, you should consult your dentist to check if you need to be on calcium supplements or not.
There you have it – everything you need to keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy. Keep an eye out for the listed symptoms and always take the right action.
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