The American Dental Hygienist’s Association says that teeth are formed by mineralization that begins in the fourth month of pregnancy. After birth, diet and nutrition affect permanent tooth enamel development and strength. Tooth enamel is made up of the mineral calcium phosphate in a crystal structure. The University of California-San Francisco says that “enamel remains integrally attached to the underlying dentin upon which it first forms.” Specialized proteins from a living cell, called an ameloblast, are responsible for the building of enamel.
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According to the American Dental Hygienist’s Association, the protein in dentin is collagen. Like bones, dentin contains collagen and other organic materials, according to the University of California-San Francisco. It also consists of hydroxyapatite, a crystal structure made of mineral calcium phosphate. The collagen in dentin depends on vitamin C for synthesis and is an important structural component of bone. Vitamin C is also essential for growth, repair and maintenance of tissue, cartilage, bones and teeth. The Vitamin Express website says that vitamin C can protect against tooth decay by slowing the growth of harmful bacteria.
Maintaining calcium levels is important for normal bone growth and bone density. Vitamin D is essential for calcium to be used by the body. The American Dental Hygienist’s Association says that “vitamin D is essential to the process by which calcium and phosphorus are deposited into crystals of hydroxyapatite, the structural matrix of bones and teeth.” If there is not enough vitamin D in the diet, there is not enough calcium absorption to satisfy what the body needs. According to the Vitamin Express, a clinical study regarding vitamin D supplements showed a 14 percent reduction in tooth loss.
Vitamin A and K
Vitamin A and vitamin K help strengthen teeth. “A tooth’s enamel contains keratin, a type of protein, and requires vitamin A for its formation,” according to the American Dental Hygienist’s Association. Vitamin K is important in the calcium-binding function of proteins and plays a role in normal bone growth and bone density. According to Vitamin Express, “vitamin K helps to prevent tooth decay by interfering with acid-forming enzymes on the teeth.” It also helps the production of a protein named osteocalcin, which draws calcium into the teeth.