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.