If you’ve been keeping up with mindbodygreen’s vitamin D content, you know about the influence vitamin D has on many aspects of your health. Its impact on oral health is certainly one of the lesser-known benefits, but I’d argue it’s a major reason to ensure you’re getting enough. After all, who wants suboptimal tooth and gum health?

Gingivitis is the medical term for inflammation of the gums1, and its symptoms include red, swollen, and bleeding gums; sensitive teeth; receding gums; and bad breath. If gingivitis progresses, periodontitis—a severe gum infection that can lead to tooth loss—can develop. If left unchecked, periodontitis (aka periodontal disease or gum disease) can lead to the breakdown of bone tissue and the development of a “periodontal pocket” between the tooth and the gums where bacteria can build up. More advanced periodontitis may even affect jaw bone density.

Studies have consistently found connections between periodontal disease and vitamin D deficiency; people with periodontal disease have lower vitamin D levels than people without. 2According to a 2018 scientific Medicina article, vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of periodontal disease3. Alternatively, maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can help promote periodontal and jawbone integrity and bolster a healthy inflammatory response in the mouth.

Prevention of periodontitis includes good oral hygiene, like brushing your teeth and getting deep cleans at the dentist. But with recent research evaluating the impact of vitamin D deficiency on gum disease, there may be another step to add to your oral care routine.

Scientists are analyzing whether taking vitamin D is an effective strategy for managing gingivitis. Preliminary studies have revealed that vitamin D supplementation might be helpful for those who already have gingivitis, as it helps prevent gingivitis from getting worse4, improves the gum inflammation associated with gingivitis5, and even results in better oral surgery outcomes6.

Vitamin D is known to increase the antibacterial defense3 of the gums by contributing to the synthesis of the mucous membrane. In other words, it helps prevent the bad stuff from getting into your deep tissues and, therefore, is an essential component to fighting against the progression of gingivitis into more advanced periodontitis.