The most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that almost half (47.2%) of all Americans above the age of 30 have periodontal disease; that’s over 64 million people. Periodontal disease is more common in men than in women (56.4% vs 38.4%), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4%), those with less than a high school education (66.9%), and current smokers (64.2%). While these statistics alone are troubling, what is most concerning is the enormous number of people who are entirely unaware of the disease, or the factors that cause it.
Since oral bone mass increases throughout infancy, childhood and adolescence, there is a peak bone mass density that is typically reached in early adulthood. Following that, all bones, including oral bones and low bone mass—particularly if there is a vitamin deficiency or genetic predisposition to it.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, specifically, involves a loss of gingival tissue in the gums and jawbone. Among its identifying characteristics like bad breath and a consistent bad taste in one’s mouth, it is also the primary cause of tooth loss in adults. One of the primary causes of periodontal disease is osteoporosis, which is a common metabolic bone disease that occurs in postmenopausal women. Since osteoporosis involves bone fragility and loss of mineral density in bone structure, the effect it has on the jawbone structure and strength cannot be overlooked.
Based on factors such as estrogen deficiency and low mineral bone density, studies have shown that postmenopausal women who have suffered from osteoporosis have an 86% more likely chance to develop periodontal disease as well. This means that with a diagnosis of osteoporosis, periodontitis can be more progressive.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you are over the age of 30, periodontal disease should be a concern, especially if you are a woman. Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those who do not have the disease. Unfortunately, it affects women at a disproportionate level. Periodontal disease can involve tooth loss and loose or ill-fitting dentures, which can all have serious effect on a woman’s mental and physical wellbeing.
In a study published by the National Institutes of Health, it was concluded that calcium and vitamin D supplementation shows a positive effect on periodontal disease and can both be used successfully for non-surgical periodontal therapy. In the study, a group was given vitamin D (250IU/day) and calcium (500 mg/day) supplementation over a three-month observation period, while the other was not given either of these therapies. At the end of the three months, the first group had shown considerable improvement in their chronic moderate periodontitis.
How Calcium Works to Prevent Bone Loss
Calcium is an important mineral for our bodies for many reasons, especially when it comes to preventing or slowing down the effects of periodontal disease. First, it is on the front line for helping to maintain strong bones. However, it also works to help the muscles, heart, and nerves, making it vital for optimum health.
Calcium in the Diet and Supplements
According to Mayo Clinic, too little calcium in one’s diet can cause children to not reach their full height, as well as low bone mass and osteoporosis in adults. Your body does not produce calcium on its own and needs to absorb it in certain ways for it to be affective. While a diet containing calcium-rich foods is the easiest way for your body to absorb calcium, most do not eat enough of it daily, making calcium supplements necessary.
Some of the best foods to get calcium are:
- Dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
- Fish with edible soft bones, such as sardines and canned salmon
- Calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as soy products, cereal and fruit juices, and milk substitutes
It is important to note, however, that your body also needs vitamin D to help it absorb the calcium it gets. A combination of the two can be hard to find in foods, which is why supplements containing both can provide optimal health solutions for periodontal disease and other forms of bone mass loss.
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