Calcium is a nutrient that can benefit a person’s teeth and bones. A calcium deficiency may have adverse effects on a person’s dental health, such as causing tooth decay and tooth loss.

This article explains everything a person needs to know about calcium deficiency and how it can affect the teeth.

An X-ray of a person's mouth showing their teeth.Share on Pinterest
Yagi Studio/Getty Images

Calcium is an important nutrient that people need to consume for strong bones and teeth.

When a person does not consume enough calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, they can develop weaker, less-dense bones and teeth. This can lead to osteoporosis and other health complications, such as tooth decay and tooth loss.

According to the New York State Department of Health, females living with osteoporosis tend to have fewer teeth than those of a similar age not living with the condition. They also note that if the jawbone weakens or thins, it may no longer support the teeth properly, leading to tooth loss.

Calcium deficiency can cause bones throughout the body to become less dense and more fragile. When this occurs, it can make a person more susceptible to losing teeth.

According to an older study, researchers found a direct correlation between not getting enough calcium and losing teeth. The researchers found that people who did not take in enough calcium each day were much more likely to lose at least one tooth within a 2-year follow-up period.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the signs of calcium deficiency may not become apparent for several years because a person’s body will pull calcium from their bones when there is a deficiency.

Over the long term, calcium deficiency can cause:

The NIH also state that severe cases of calcium deficiency can cause:

  • convulsions
  • numbness or tingling in the fingers
  • abnormal heart rhythms

A person can take steps to strengthen their enamel and prevent calcium deficiency and its symptoms before they happen.

Everyday habits

People can take steps to keep their teeth healthy by:

  • taking care of the gums and teeth with regular brushing, flossing, and dentist visits
  • replacing the toothbrush at regular intervals
  • limiting alcoholic beverages
  • avoiding smoking
  • consuming 600–800 international units of vitamin D per day
  • eating or consuming 1,000–1,200 milligrams of calcium each day through food or supplements
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • eating a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low fat dairy
  • getting regular exercise
  • visiting the dentist immediately if discomfort or other symptoms occur in the mouth
  • using caution to avoid falls

What to eat

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommend that people add more calcium-rich foods to their diet.

There are various dietary sources of calcium, including nondairy and vegan options. They include:

  • dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • soy milk
  • tofu with added calcium
  • dark green, leafy vegetables
  • almonds
  • beans
  • orange juice with added calcium
  • canned fish

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend that a person eat foods rich in vitamin C and phosphorus in addition to calcium. Vitamin C helps promote gum health, while phosphorus, which is in foods such as beans, eggs, and meats, is important for strong teeth.

According to the ADA, lost teeth can lead to nutritional issues. They say that a person who has experienced tooth loss is more likely to eat a soft diet that may not include necessary nutrients. This can lead to other complications, such as obesity.

The ADA also recommend that a person talk to their dentist about replacing missing teeth. They say that having properly fitting dentures can make a difference in helping a person maintain a regular, healthful diet.

Calcium in food vs. supplements

In a 2015 study, researchers linked low calcium intake with an increased risk of both oral cancer and oral disease. They identified that people in the at-risk group ate more protein and drank more soft drinks than others.

Consuming enough calcium is an important part of preventing bone density loss. However, people should try to get their calcium and other nutrients from foods rather than supplements.

The researchers behind a 2013 study stated that doctors should avoid prescribing or recommending calcium supplements due to the minimal effect they have on preventing fractures. They also found that taking calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attack, kidney stones, and acute gastrointestinal events.

Another study, this one from 2017, also advises people to get their calcium from the diet. The researchers recommend that doctors discourage people from using calcium supplements.

A person should talk to their doctor or dentist if they lose a tooth, suddenly break a bone, or show other potential signs of calcium deficiency.

A person living with osteoporosis should consider talking to their doctor or dentist about the possibility of tooth loss, as well as how to help prevent it.

Anyone with missing teeth should talk to their dentist. The dentist can fit a pair of dentures to help the person maintain the full function of their mouth.

Calcium deficiency can lead to poor bone health and other health conditions. It can also negatively affect the teeth.

When calcium levels are not sufficient, a person’s body will start to draw on calcium stores in the bones. As this occurs, their bones can become less dense and weaker, leading to several potential complications, including tooth loss.

Lack of calcium may also make a person more susceptible to cancers and diseases in the mouth. Some people may be able to prevent complications by getting enough calcium and vitamin D in their diet or through supplements.

In general, people should aim to consume calcium through the diet rather than in supplement form because some research suggests that taking calcium supplements may increase the risk of certain adverse health effects.

A person should talk to their doctor if they experience symptoms of calcium deficiency or are concerned about preventing it.