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Dental cariesHow does vitamin D work?

The primary mechanism whereby vitamin D can reduce the risk and severity of dental caries is through production of cathelicidin and defensins, which have antimicrobial properties1 2.

A number of recent papers have discussed the role of vitamin D in reducing the load of caries-causing bacteria in the mouth3 4 5 6 7 8 9.

Page last edited: 17 May 2011


  1. Liu, P. T. Stenger, S. Tang, D. H. Modlin, R. L. Cutting edge: vitamin D-mediated human antimicrobial activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis is dependent on the induction of cathelicidin. J Immunol. 2007 Aug 15; 179 (4): 2060-3.
  2. Gombart, A. F. The vitamin D-antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection. Future Microbiol. 2009 Nov; 41151-65.
  3. Altman, H. Steinberg, D. Porat, Y. Mor, A. Fridman, D. Friedman, M. Bachrach, G. In vitro assessment of antimicrobial peptides as potential agents against several oral bacteria. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 Jul; 58 (1): 198-201.
  4. Dale, B. A. Fredericks, L. P. Antimicrobial peptides in the oral environment: expression and function in health and disease. Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2005 Jul; 7 (2): 119-33.
  5. Gomes, P. de S. Fernandes, M. H. Defensins in the oral cavity: distribution and biological role. J Oral Pathol Med. 2010 Jan; 39 (1): 1-9.
  6. Diamond, G. Beckloff, N. Ryan, L. K. Host defense peptides in the oral cavity and the lung: similarities and differences. J Dent Res. 2008 Oct; 87 (10): 915-27.
  7. Ji, S. Hyun, J. Park, E. Lee, B. L. Kim, K. K. Choi, Y. Susceptibility of various oral bacteria to antimicrobial peptides and to phagocytosis by neutrophils. J Periodontal Res. 2007 Oct; 42 (5): 410-9.
  8. Komatsuzawa, H. Ouhara, K. Kawai, T. Yamada, S. Fujiwara, T. Shiba, H. Kurihara, H. Taubman, M. A. Sugai, M. Susceptibility of periodontopathogenic and cariogenic bacteria to defensins and potential therapeutic use of defensins in oral diseases. Curr Pharm Des. 2007; 13 (30): 3084-95.
  9. Tao, R. Jurevic, R. J. Coulton, K. K. Tsutsui, M. T. Roberts, M. C. Kimball, J. R. Wells, N. Berndt, J. Dale, B. A. Salivary antimicrobial peptide expression and dental caries experience in children. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2005 Sep; 49 (9): 3883-8.