Adequate calcium is vital for people of all age groups contrary to some misbeliefs. Young children need calcium for the development of healthy teeth and bones while adults need calcium to maintain healthy teeth and strong bones.
A significant population of people does not fulfill the daily calcium requirement of the body.
Deficiency of calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis, which weakens the bones and makes them brittle.
The jaw bone also becomes weak and fragile and eventually cause the teeth to loosen and possibly fall out. Go on to read all about calcium deficiency and its effects on our teeth.
What is Calcium Deficiency?
Calcium deficiency is also known as hypocalcemia. It is a medical condition where calcium levels in the blood serum are low. In this condition, the blood needs more calcium to function at normal levels.
While many different factors contribute to calcium deficiency, the most common ones are- malnutrition, aging, vitamin D deficiency, and hormonal changes.
A prolonged deficiency of calcium can also lead to deficiency diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia.
It is a medical condition characterized by brittle and fragile bones due to loss of tissue, typically due to hormonal changes, or calcium or vitamin D deficiency(1).
It is defined as reduced bone density, a precursor of osteoporosis. (2)
How calcium deficiency affects our teeth
A decrease in jawbone density
Bone loss of the maxilla and the mandible is a prominent ill-effect of calcium deficiency. Comparison of dental x-rays of calcium deficient patients over the period indicates a decrease in jawbone density.
Bone loss may become so severe that it becomes difficult to create functional dentures in old age.
Reduced jaw bone density makes the bone porous and the bone mass around the tooth socket decreases. This makes such patients more prone to immature tooth loss and tooth mobility.
Calcium deficiency ameliorates tooth decay as decreased calcium concentration in the saliva cannot compensate for the demineralization and the remineralization of the enamel layer.
The teeth also become brittle and easily chipped at the edges.
Irritated gums and increased risk of periodontal diseases and delayed tooth formation are the other effects of calcium deficiency.
Post-menopausal women, women with amenorrhea, vegans, and people who are lactose intolerant are more likely to suffer teeth loss if they have osteoporosis than those with healthy bones.
Calcium deficiency symptoms
The signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency can vary dramatically ranging from no symptoms at all to moderate and even fatal.
Even if the symptoms are non-existent, potential dysfunction may occur in the body without your awareness. Here are a few calcium deficiency symptoms –
- Muscle cramps and muscle spasms
- Chipped brittle teeth
- Tooth loss and mobility
- Tooth decay
- Confusion and memory loss
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Brittle nails
The calcium deficiency symptoms in teeth are comparably tricky to detect. You may notice an increased number of cavities or chipped teeth easier than usual.
If the deficiency is diagnosed in the initial stages, it is easy to replenish the calcium supply and fortify the bones and the teeth.
How much calcium do you need?
Not every person requires the same amount of calcium. National Academy of Sciences recommends different calcium dietary intake according to gender and age.
- Also read: Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods and Their Benefits
For example, children and pregnant women need more calcium than adults. Recommended Calcium Intake/day based on age –
- 0-12 Months – 200mg-260mg
- 1-3 Years – 700mg
- 4-8 Years – 1,000mg
- 9-18 Years – 1,300mg
- 19-71 Years – 1,000mg
The exact calcium intake varies on the basis of sex and for pregnant women. You can further discuss your exact calcium requirement with a medical professional.
How to take an adequate amount of calcium?
It is important to consume plenty of calcium-rich foods to fulfill the daily calcium requirement of the body.
Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, particularly parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, and mozzarella are rich sources of calcium. (3)
Many other options are just as good as dairy products, some even better. Non-dairy foods include –
- Kale – Kale has become one of the superfoods around, for good reason of being a rich source of calcium.
- Sardines – Sardines are widely-considered to be one of the healthiest kinds of fish you can consume. It contains lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and calcium.
- Black-eyed peas – Black-eyed peas are legumes which are jam-packed with calcium.
- Almonds – Almonds are considered most nutritionally dense amongst all nuts. They are a pro in regulating blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol and promoting weight loss.
- Turnip greens – A rich source of calcium which also has lots of powerful antioxidants.
What to avoid in your diet?
Certain foods products and beverage interfere with calcium absorption. High-sodium foods, soda, caffeine are the most potent ones. Hence, these food items should be avoided.
Take away message
Strong teeth and bones are important assets for good health. Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and bones.
Bones and teeth are the primary reservoirs of calcium as the maximum calcium concentration is present in them.
Calcium not only strengthens teeth and bones but also plays a vital role in regulating mechanism of the blood vessels, muscles, and fluids.
If you don’t consume dairy products, it is not mandatory that you start drinking milk.
Instead, you can opt for equally nutritious other calcium-rich non-dairy food products such as almonds, kale, etc.
You should avoid sugary snacks and carbonated drinks as high sugar content can potentially increase tooth decay.
Also, you should brush and floss regularly and timely visit your dentist to get your teeth examined.