Times have changed from the days in the 80s when people would lay out in the sun for hours, oftentimes without sunscreen. We’ve learned a lot since then. So much so that it sparked an entire national awareness campaign around the importance of sun protection. National Sunscreen Day, celebrated every year on May 27, raises awareness of the skin and health dangers of too much sun exposure without proper protection. But how does the sun affect your teeth? Let’s check in with your dentist in Charlotte.
Sun is Good For Teeth
Getting outside in the sun can be good for both oral health and overall health because it gives our bodies vitamin D. While we can fuel the body’s need for vitamin D through certain foods such as fatty fish, eggs, and dairy, the sun is one of the best ways to get a healthy dose of this essential vitamin. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary to build strong teeth and bones. Additionally, vitamin D can help protect against:
- Gum Disease
- Weak or Underdeveloped Teeth
- Weakened Bones
However, many Americans don’t get enough vitamin D to support the body’s needs. In fact, around 42% of U.S. adults are vitamin D deficienct. This is one reason why your dentist in Charlotte supports getting outside and soaking up the sun, with protection, of course.
When is the Sun Bad for Oral Health?
Despite the fact that sun exposure can benefit oral health, there are some things you should keep in mind. While it’s not likely for the teeth to be directly damaged from the sun (although it is still possible), other areas of oral health can easily be harmed by too much sun or as a side effect of being in the sun for too long.
- Protect the Lips
We always encourage our patients to apply sunscreen to their skin before going outside, but many often forget about their lips. However, the lips can easily burn. Similarly to other areas of the body, too much sun damage on the lips can increase the risk of developing lip or oral cancer. So before you head outdoors, take the advice of your dentist in Charlotte and apply a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher, and reapply often.
- Hydrate Often
Staying hydrated at any time is important to both oral and overall health. But it’s even more crucial when we’re outside in the sun and heat. The sun can soak up any sweat quickly and leave our bodies craving water. Not replenishing this liquid can cause dehydration, which can be a really serious health problem. It can also be a serious problem for oral health. Dehydration can cause dry mouth, an uncomfortable condition that leaves us feeling constantly thirsty. Dry mouth can also increase the risk of bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
As the weather is warming up and we find ourselves spending more time outside, and more time in the sun, take the recommended precautions. Use sunscreen, even when it’s not super sunny, as well as an SPF lip balm, and drink plenty of water throughout the day to help stay hydrated.