Hypercalcemia and the diseases that cause it can have a serious effect on your health, from the bones to your brain to your heart. But what about your oral health? While "hypercalcemia teeth" isn't a disorder by itself, it's important to keep in touch with your dentist to maintain a healthy mouth while the rest of your body is healing.
What Is Hypercalcemia?
Hypercalcemia is a condition marked by increased levels of calcium in the blood, according to Merck Manuals. While it can develop on its own in rare cases, increased calcium is usually secondary to a hormone disorder or a disease.
Cancer can cause hypercalcemia in two ways. Some types, such as ovarian or kidney cancer cells, can release a protein that increases the amount of calcium in the blood, while cancer that has metastasized (most commonly from the lungs or prostate) can damage and break down bones, releasing calcium into the bloodstream.
Hypercalcemia teeth are in less danger than other body parts, such as the kidneys. Your kidneys are forced to work harder to filter excess calcium from the blood, which can cause frequent urination, kidney stones or even kidney failure, warns the Mayo Clinic.
Regulating Calcium in the Body
Calcium levels in your body are regulated by two small glands called the parathyroid glands, located on either side of the thyroid gland in your neck. They produce a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates the activity of the osteoblast and osteoclast cells that produce and resorb bone in the skeletal system. When levels of this hormone are off, it can result in hypercalcemia, explains the Journal of Dental and Allied Sciences (JDAS).
Some of the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism can be risky for teeth and gums. Hyperparathyroidism's effects on oral health include the calcification (hardening) of soft tissue, the weakening of bones, and rampant tooth decay, according to the JDAS.
Osteoporosis and Teeth
When bones continue to release calcium into the blood, hypercalcemia can also be complicated by osteoporosis. This bone-weakening disease can have severe effects on oral health. Your dentist may be the first one to spot a case of osteoporosis if they notice bone loss in the jaw, loose teeth or ill-fitting dentures. Severe periodontitis (gum disease) can also cause bone loss in the jaw, and the two conditions may exacerbate each other.
Both osteoporosis and gum disease can be prevented partly by making sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Rather than fixing a deficiency with supplements, DentistryIQ recommends keeping up your levels of these two nutrients by eating calcium-rich foods like broccoli, kale and dairy products.
Treatment for Hypercalcemia
The treatment for hypercalcemia is twofold: care must address not only the elevated levels of calcium in the blood, but also the underlying condition. According to UpToDate, mild to moderate cases can often be treated by maintaining good hydration to pass the calcium and avoiding a high-calcium diet. If a case of hypercalcemia is caused by cancer, the patient must work with their doctor to balance cancer treatment and other medical care while they recover.
A study published by Physiological Reviews explores injections of synthetic parathyroid hormone as a treatment for osteoporosis and bone loss. Injecting synthetic PTH slows bone loss and helps rebuild bone density by bolstering the body's osteoblasts.
If you are recovering from cancer or a hormonal imbalance like hyperparathyroidism, you should talk to your dentist about maintaining good oral health while your body is undergoing changes. Gums, soft tissues, salivary glands and teeth can all be affected by systemic conditions and treatments like radiation, so it's important to keep up good oral hygiene while you are undergoing treatment.