When you think about bone health, you're probably picturing your head, shoulders, knees and toes before you think about your teeth. But your teeth are actually made up of the same materials as your bones, and as such, require the same care and attention that your bones do. Unfortunately, age, a poor diet and other risk factors may affect the strength of the minerals and materials in your teeth. Calcium strengthens your bones and body, but calcium deficiency teeth are another story.
Calcium and Teeth
Your teeth are essentially made up of a material called crystalline calcium phosphate, or hydroxyapatite. You can think of this calcium as a woven basket: it creates a lattice-like pattern that strengths and protects the sensitive nerves inside each tooth.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (NIHODS) , the calcium in your body is constantly ebbing and flowing, breaking down and being rebuilt. As you use your bones and teeth, a natural erosion of calcium occurs. Luckily, your body makes up for that erosion and quickly replaces lost calcium. What's more, the NIHODS notes that your body is fairly efficient in storing excess calcium in your bones and teeth, further fortifying them against erosion and breakage.
When, for whatever reason, your body is breaking down calcium faster than it can rebuild, that's when you have calcium deficiency teeth and other health issues. Some of the risk factors of this occurring include being female, advanced age and not getting enough calcium in your diet.
Signs and Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency in Teeth
Because you can't physically see calcium breaking down and rebuilding in your body, you might not notice a deficiency right away. The NIHODS warns against initial symptoms of extreme calcium deficiency, like low bone mass, bone fractures, convulsions and abnormal heart rhythm. You might notice that you get more cavities than usual, or your teeth chip and break easily.
The good news is that if you notice a calcium deficiency right away, you can work to help your body become better at replacing lost calcium and fortifying bones and teeth. Left unchecked, however, you are at a greater risk for osteoporosis, a serious condition that results in brittle, porous bones that are prone to breakage and can seriously affect your quality of life.
To increase calcium in your body and strengthen your teeth and bones, the American Dental Association suggests a diet high in unsweetened milk and yogurt products. Foods high in calcium can help fortify and protect against dental erosion. If you're still not getting enough, talk to your doctor about taking a daily calcium supplement to further protect your bones, teeth and body. It's also a good idea to switch to a toothpaste specifically made to strengthen tooth enamel, which helps strengthen enamel and replenish natural calcium.
You want your bones and teeth to stay strong for years of good health. Luckily, your body is on your side as it stores and replenishes lost calcium. Still, you can do your part to help out by consuming a diet high in calcium and using the right products to prevent deficiency and keep your body – and your smile – in good shape.