The journey to great oral health may begin earlier than you might expect. In fact, expecting mothers should carefully monitor the nutrients they are eating to ensure that their children will be at low-risk for cavities later on in life.
Dr. Robert J. Schroth and his research team at the University of Manitoba in Canada looked at the relationship between a mother’s vitamin D deficiency and its effects on oral health in their children. The study tested 207 pregnant women during their second and third trimesters and subsequently looked at cavity prevalence in their children. Mothers with regular levels of vitamin D during pregnancy were more likely to have children without cavities while mothers with significant vitamin D deficiencies experienced an increased prevalence of cavities in their children.
In order to conceptualize this correlation, researchers looked at the effect vitamin D has in enamel formation in utero. Interestingly, enamel growth begins as early as during fetal development in the womb. Without this essential vitamin, enamel cannot properly form and this increases a child’s susceptibility to cavities. With these findings in mind, the researchers think that the best way to combat poor enamel formation is to both improve maternal nutrition during pregnancy and also take special preventative measures in early childhood to avoid cavities. This can be done through an improved diet or taking a specific vitamin D supplement.
Nevertheless, there remains a debate within the dental community about vitamin D supplementation. Dr. Philippe P. Hujoel of the University of Washington School of Dentistry was quoted as an advocate against extra vitamin D supplementation by saying in an e-mail to Reuters Health, “In place of supplementation, I would recommend maintaining proper vitamin D levels during pregnancy the natural way – enjoy the sun, choose foods such as wild salmon, ahi tuna, mushrooms and eggs. Additionally, reducing carbohydrate intake will reduce the body’s need for vitamin D,” he told Reuters Health in an email.
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