Different food sources of calcium, such as almonds and milk, surroundig a chalkboard that reads 'Calcium'

There are a lot of persistent myths about oral care: the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth are; flossing isn't actually effective; and sugar won’t hurt your teeth. You've probably also heard that calcium is important for your bones and your teeth. Is this another one of those dental myths, or is calcium really that important? Let's try to answer that.

Calcium's Role in Developing Teeth

Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and 99% of it is stored in your bones and teeth. Calcium, along with phosphorous and vitamin D, plays an important role in developing healthy teeth and bones. It's responsible for the growth and hardening of your teeth and of the bones in your jaw. Symptoms of low calcium intake include:

  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tooth decay
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss

Many of the problems associated with low calcium are caused by weak bones (osteoporosis) in the jaw. Your jaw bones are partly responsible for holding teeth in place. As they weaken, your teeth begin to loosen. Eventually, they begin to fall out entirely.

Calcium's Role as You Age

There's a fairly common misconception that adults don't need calcium or that they don't need as much. Some even go so far as to claim that you stop absorbing calcium after childhood. In reality, you never stop absorbing calcium and it's just as important in adults as it is in children. While it's true that bone mass peaks at around age 25, you still need calcium in order to replace what's lost.

Adults who are chronically deficient in calcium experience higher rates of gum disease, lower bone density, and more bone fractures over their lifetimes. Calcium isn't just important for your bones and teeth either. It's essential for blood clotting, nerve function, muscular development, and heart health.

How Much Calcium is Recommended?

The amount of calcium you need depends primarily on your age, but each person is different. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends the following:

  • 0-12 months - 200 mg
  • 7-12 months - 260 mg
  • 1-3 years - 700 mg
  • 4-8 years - 1000 mg
  • 9-13 years - 1,300 mg
  • 14-18 years - 1,300 mg
  • 19-50 years - 1,000 mg
  • 51-70 years - 1,000 mg
  • 71+ years - 1,200 mg 

As you can see, your calcium intake should increase as you age into adulthood and then steady out at around 1,000 mg. As you age further, calcium becomes even more important. Calcium isn't just important for still-developing children. It's important for adults of all ages.

What Are Good sources of Calcium?

Many of the best sources of calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you're lactose intolerant or vegan, you still have a number of options. Poppy, sesame, and celery seeds are a great source of calcium. A single cup of winged beans contains 244 mg, roughly 24% of the RDI of calcium.If you have trouble getting enough calcium through diet alone then supplements are an option as well.

The bottom line is that calcium is a very important part of your oral health. Calcium deficiency can cause your teeth, as well as the bones in your jaw, to weaken. So, unless you want to lose a few teeth or break a few bones, make sure you're getting enough calcium every day.

If you suffer from the symptoms of low calcium or any degenerative joint disease like arthritis or osteoporosis, book an appointment with Dr. Kanehl today.