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Calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce tooth loss in the elderly

  • Elizabeth A Krall
    Correspondence
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Elizabeth A. Krall, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Health Services Research, Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, 715 Albany Street, Room B324, Boston, Massachusetts 02118 USA.
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Policy and Health Services Research, Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine (EAK, CW, RIG), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Calcium and Bone Metabolism Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (EAK, SSH, BDH), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Carolyn Wehler
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Policy and Health Services Research, Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine (EAK, CW, RIG), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Raul I Garcia
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Policy and Health Services Research, Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine (EAK, CW, RIG), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Veterans Affairs Dental Longitudinal Study, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System (RIG), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Susan S Harris
    Affiliations
    Calcium and Bone Metabolism Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (EAK, SSH, BDH), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Bess Dawson-Hughes
    Affiliations
    Calcium and Bone Metabolism Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (EAK, SSH, BDH), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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      Abstract

      Purpose

      Oral bone and tooth loss are correlated with bone loss at nonoral sites. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation slow the rate of bone loss from various skeletal sites, but it is not known if intake of these nutrients affects oral bone and, in turn, tooth retention.

      Subjects and methods

      Tooth loss was examined in 145 healthy subjects aged 65 years and older who completed a 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on bone loss from the hip, as well as a 2-year follow-up study after discontinuation of study supplements. Teeth were counted at 18 months and 5 years. A comprehensive oral examination at 5 years included assessment of caries, oral hygiene, and periodontal disease. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of tooth loss were estimated by stepwise multivariate logistic regression. Initial age (mean ± SD) of subjects was 71 ± 5 years, and the number of teeth remaining was 22 ± 7.

      Results

      During the randomized trial, 11 of the 82 subjects (13%) taking supplements and 17 of the 63 subjects (27%) taking placebo lost one or more teeth (OR = 0.4; 95% CI: 0.2 to 0.9). During the 2-year follow-up period, 31 of the 77 subjects (40%) with total calcium intake of at least 1000 mg per day lost one or more teeth compared with 40 of the 68 subjects (59%) who consumed less (OR = 0.5; 95% CI: 0.2 to 0.9).

      Conclusion

      These findings suggest that intake levels of calcium and vitamin D aimed at preventing osteoporosis have a beneficial effect on tooth retention.
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