Study of skeletons several centuries old has given some insight into vitamin D deficiency. We have known for many generations that vitamin D was essential for our health, and we have known that this extended to our teeth. Lack of vitamin D definitely had some detrimental effect on our oral health. But as controlled experiments are not possible, we cannot deliberately deprive individuals of nutrients to see how they suffer, we must rely on historical studies to see how individuals in the past were affected by diet deficiencies.
In the past much research into vitamin D was conducted on the bones of skeletal remains. But as bones alter throughout life, and interact with environmental conditions after death, the research was limited, if not flawed. The situation is different with teeth, however. Unlike bones teeth are not completely remodelled over time. Rather, they form internal layers over time, rather like the rings inside a growing tree. These layers provide an ongoing record of the individual, and allow researchers to understand how the availability or lack of vitamin D (and some other substances) affects dental health.
The days of people suffering rickets from severe vitamin D deficiency are gone. Such diseases are now rare given that we have discovered their cause. But less than optimal vitamin D levels will still compromise health. The good news is that it is the cheapest supplement in the world! Sun exposure creates vitamin D in the body. Provided we don’t let ourselves get sunburnt is it possible to create sufficient levels of vitamin D with moderate amounts of outdoor activity. We recommend exposing arm and legs, rather than the face, to the Sun as these areas of our body usually receive the least light. Early morning Sun exposure will help the body’s sleep cycle and improve our dental health, at absolutely no cost.