Background: A low dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium hastens bone loss and osteoporosis. Because vitamin D metabolites may also alter the inflammatory response and have antimicrobial effects, we studied whether the use of vitamin D and calcium supplements affects periodontal disease status.

Methods: A cohort of 51 subjects receiving periodontal maintenance therapy was recruited from two dental clinics; 23 were taking vitamin D (>/=400 IU/day) and calcium (>/=1,000 mg/day) supplementation, and 28 were not taking such supplementation. All subjects had at least two interproximal sites with >/=3 mm clinical attachment loss. Daily calcium and vitamin D intake (from food and supplements) were estimated by nutritional analysis. The following clinical parameters of periodontal disease were recorded for the mandibular posterior teeth: gingival index, probing depth, cemento-enamel junction-gingival margin distance (attachment loss), bleeding on probing, and furcation involvement. Posterior photostimulable-phosphor bitewing radiographs were taken to determine cemento-enamel junction-alveolar crest distances (alveolar crest height loss). Data were analyzed with a repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance.

Results: Compared to subjects who did not take vitamin D and calcium supplementation, supplement takers had shallower probing depths, fewer bleeding sites, lower gingival index values, fewer furcation involvements, less attachment loss, and less alveolar crest height loss. The repeated-measures analysis indicated that collectively these differences were borderline significant (P = 0.08).

Conclusions: In these subjects receiving periodontal maintenance therapy, there was a trend for better periodontal health with vitamin D and calcium supplementation. More expanded longitudinal studies are required to determine the potential of this relationship.

key words: periodontal disease - vitamin d, calcium