Can Sunshine Harm Your Smile?

Love soaking up the sun this summer? This season is the perfect time to go outside to enjoy the sunny weather! Whether you plan to spend your time with friends and family here in Alpharetta, GA or to leave town on vacation, there’s a good chance you’ll spend time outdoors in the summer heat.

We believe summer is the perfect time to create new memories and enjoy the beautiful weather, but we’d like to stress the importance of still taking care of your health during this time. With vacations and breaks from your normal routine, it can be particularly easy to put your overall health and oral health on the back burner. There is a range of concerns that are especially relevant to this summer season and with the warm weather, we find it’s fairly common to experience health problems due to sun exposure. It’s well-known that too much exposure to the sun can result in a series of health problems. Many of our patients here at Dental Smiles at Johns Creek are surprised to find out that sun exposure can even have an effect on their oral health. To explain more on this subject, Dr. Devang Shah shares the pros and cons of sun exposure for the health of your smile.

Sun Exposure: Pros and Cons for Oral Health

Sun exposure is typically associated with a range of health problems including premature aging, skin cancer, and more. While we highly recommend our patients keep an eye on the amount of time they’re out in the sun, sun exposure isn’t all bad. In fact, some sun exposure is key to maintaining great health. Oral health, in particular, is heavily influenced by the time you spend out in the sun because of vitamin D.

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is absolutely crucial for a healthy smile. You obtain vitamin D through sunshine because the body kicks off the natural production of the organic compound when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is important for oral health because it is necessary for the bone mineralization process. Without enough vitamin D, your body will not be able to absorb calcium for strong bones. There are many dental problems that can be caused by bone loss. Low levels of vitamin D are also known weaken the immune system, which can make you more susceptible to problems like gum infection.

There are even some studies that show the sunlight can reduce patient’s likelihood of developing periodontal disease. A study from Norway found a relationship between latitude and tooth loss. According to the study, 11% of people living in the south lost teeth compared to 43% in the central region and 66% in the northern region. Researchers noted that sunlight and vitamin D rapidly decrease with higher latitudes.

As you can see, sunshine can be helpful for oral health because of vitamin D. However, there are certainly a number of risks to keep in mind as well. Too much sun exposure is a risk factor for developing oral cancer. Oral cancer occurs when cells grow uncontrollably and damage surrounding tissue. Oral cancer is especially dangerous because it is often caught during the late stages. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately “7,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year.”

Sun exposure increases your odds for developing this type of cancer because ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation increases your odds of developing these troublesome cancer-causing cells.

Contact Dental Smiles at Johns Creek

From all of us here at Dental Smiles at Johns Creek, we hope our patients have a wonderful summer! Remember to limit the time you spend out in the sun and to keep an eye on your oral health. For any concerns you may have about your smile, feel free to contact our office. We offer a range of dental services to best address your specific concerns.

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