With the nature of 9 to 5 jobs and working in a white walled office, it’s easy to get what we like to call “fluorescent light poisoning.” “Fluorescent light poisoning” is an imaginary poisoning, but essentially it means that you’re not getting enough sunshine.
Like most things in life, sun exposure can be bad for you in excess. However, with the proper amount, sunshine is a vital component not only for your health. Not only does it help with your overall health, but also your dental health.
Today, we’re going to talk about some vital components of sunshine, and how they can help you ward off dental caries, otherwise known as dental decay.
Causes of Dental Caries
Dental caries, or dental decay, is your teeth’s worst nightmare. Dentists also don’t like dental caries. In fact, a major part of our careers are spent trying to fight dental caries.
As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, decay occurs when bacteria on your teeth turn sugars and carbohydrates into acids. Acid destroys you tooth’s enamel and demineralizes your teeth. Eventually, if the acids make it past the thin enamel layer on your teeth and into the dentin layer, the tooth has a cavity.
Fortunately, before the cavity is formed, the decay is reversible. When decay reaches the dentin layer, it’s no longer reversible.
One of the primary symptoms of dental caries is tooth sensitivities to sweet, hot, and cold food and drinks. Sometime dental decay can go undetected until your dentist diagnoses it.
However, when your tooth is extensively decayed, your pain will stay constant.
Sunshine and Vitamin D
Multiple studies have linked tooth loss and dental health to the levels of sun that a geographic region gets.
Calcium and phosphate mineralizes in your body to create enamel. In fact, enamel is the single most converted substance in the human body.
When you spend time in the sun, your skin absorbs ultraviolet B rays, the scientific word for sunlight. Your skin then converts the ultraviolet B rays to vitamin D.
Vitamin D is also a critical nutrient to helping your body absorb calcium and phosphate from your food. Your body also intercepts Vitamin D in the cells of your teeth and immune system. Essentially, vitamin D attaches to these receptors, creating antimicrobial proteins in your body.
The good antimicrobial proteins helps your body fight off the bacteria that causes dental decay.
Sunshine and Tooth Decay
Even more helpful, the cells in your teeth that create dentin and enamel have vitamin D receptors, helping the remineralization of your teeth.
Most studies show that dental decay is more common at the end of winter and early spring and wanes in the summer. This makes sense, since these are the seasons when vitamin D is at its lowest.
Other research shows that where you live and rate of sun exposure is linked to dental decay. While culture also plays a role, most societies living closer to the equator are less likely to get dental decay, because they have higher rates of sun exposure.
With that being said, you can help strengthen your teeth by taking to the outdoors this summer! At the same time, most skin tones only need about 15 minutes in the sun to get adequate vitamin D absorption.
If you’re fair skinned, it can take less time than that. Be careful that you don’t burn by spending short increments outside a day, or using skin protection when you find yourself getting sunburned.