It is believed that calcium in foods and supplements strengthens teeth – and that during pregnancy, due to the baby’s need for this element, calcium can “leave” the teeth. But is it really possible to nourish the teeth with calcium, which enters the body with food, “from the inside” – or in the same way to wash it out of the enamel? And is it possible to replenish the mineral substances lost by the teeth “outside” with the help of toothpaste?
The role of calcium in the human body is enormous: it is needed for strong healthy bones, muscle contraction, heart and nervous system activity, normal blood clotting, and hormone secretion. Almost all of the body’s calcium is found in bones and teeth in the form of hydroxyapatite – and it is to this compound that they owe their density. The circulatory system, intercellular fluid, muscles, and other tissues account for only about 1% of calcium. Bone tissue is a kind of reservoir: if necessary, it releases the amount of calcium that the body needs for urgent needs, after which it is rebuilt.
That the level of calcium and other essential minerals in the tissues of the tooth is formed at the stage of its development with the participation of genetically inherent mechanisms. After the teeth have finished their formation, after the eruption of the tooth and the end of its mineralization, the process of absorption of minerals directly from the bloodstream stops. In other words, you can drink vitamins as much as you like, but if you are not a child or teenager, the density of your teeth cannot be influenced in this way, since they are already fully formed.
As for pregnant women – indeed, during pregnancy, more calcium is needed for the harmonious formation of the baby’s tissues (including teeth), but there is no evidence that the baby “steals” calcium from the mother when it´s in lack. Dental problems during and after pregnancy are associated with other factors, such as increased acidity in the mouth due to belching or vomiting. After vomiting, when the enamel is under the influence of acid, you need to rinse your mouth – but brushing at this moment can harm your teeth. Tooth decay in pregnant women is also facilitated by deterioration in hygiene, including due to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) associated with changes in hormonal levels, and increased consumption of carbs when someone advises a woman to “eat for two,” and refusal to visit the dentist and professional teeth cleaning.
At the same time, an experiment was conducted in which women received dietary supplements with calcium throughout pregnancy. Their children had a lower prevalence of tooth decay for twelve years than those of women who did not take extra calcium. It turns out that pregnant women should take calcium to strengthen the teeth of the unborn child, and in order to improve the condition of their own, they should regularly visit the dentist, establish hygiene and follow the diet.
In another placebo-controlled study, elderly people (over 65 years of age) received calcium and vitamin D supplements for three years, and then followed up for another two years. As a result, the loss of teeth in those who took calcium, rather than placebo, was less – but this was due to the strengthening of the jaw bone tissue, that is, in fact, better fixation of the teeth in the jaw, and not the strengthening of the enamel. Cheese is no substitute for brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day – but it can be a good addition to tooth decay prevention.
The enamel consists of the so-called enamel prisms, which in turn are made of calcium hydroxyapatite. At the initial stage of caries, under the influence of acid, minerals are “washed out” of the enamel hydroxyapatite; this process is called demineralization. Gradually a “hole” in the enamel is formed – a carious cavity. White matte spots on the teeth, the so-called chalky – as if drawn with chalk – this is also caries, but only in the very early stage, and it can still be cured without a drill and filling. To do this, in contrast to demineralization, the enamel is remineralized – that is, it is saturated with mineral components.
For remineralization, fluorides (fluorine compounds) and calcium are used – not in pure form, but in the form of amorphous calcium phosphate. It has been proven that the best results can be achieved using the combination of this calcium compound with fluorides. For these purposes, pastes, rinses, foams with amorphous calcium phosphate, as well as professional remineralization at the dentist are suitable. It turns out that you can strengthen your teeth, that is, saturate them with minerals, only from the outside, but not from the inside.