National Sunscreen Day is celebrated every year on May 27th and is designed to raise awareness of the dangers that can come from getting too much sun, especially without the protection of sunscreen. But how exactly does this apply to your teeth, and why is your dentist in Madison talking about it? The truth is, sunshine can both benefit and damage oral health.
Oral Health Benefits of Sunshine
The sun has one of the most important things teeth need to stay strong and healthy – vitamin D. Vitamin D is what allows the body to absorb calcium, and you need to get the right amount of both to get the benefits. Getting some sun, along with eating foods high in vitamin D and calcium, can help. However, too many Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. Around 42% of U.S. adults are vitamin D deficient. Without enough vitamin D, the body and teeth could be in trouble. Vitamin D deficiency can cause or contribute to:
Even though we can get vitamin D by eating foods such as fatty fish, eggs, and fortified food like dairy, juice, and plant milk, the best way to get vitamin D is through the sun. Just always make sure to wear sunscreen on your skin and reapply often.
Oral Health Dangers of Sunshine
Luckily, the teeth aren’t often directly at risk for damage from the sun, although it’s still possible. But other areas of the mouth are more likely to sustain negative effects from too much sunshine.
Heat makes us sweat. Sweat makes our bodies lose water. Losing water causes dehydration. Dehydration is certainly a serious problem that affects overall health, but it’s also a concern for your dentist in Madison. Dehydration can cause something called dry mouth. Dry mouth isn’t only uncomfortable, but it will also allow bacteria that are usually rinsed away by saliva to build up, increasing the risk of cavities of gum disease. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’re spending time getting sun.
While the risk of too much sun exposure damaging teeth is low, the lips are another story. Lip skin is sensitive and can easily burn, and they’re often bypassed while applying sunscreen. Giving your lips some love with a lip balm with an SPF of 15 higher before heading outdoors, and several times during, can lower the risk of lip, skin, or oral cancer.
The best way to celebrate National Sunscreen Day and protect your oral and overall health is to pledge to wear sunscreen every time you’ll be outside, even when it’s not necessarily sunny. When it comes to oral health specifically, make sure to see your dentist in Madison at least twice a year for regular checkups. These visits can help monitor overall oral health and catch any potential problems such as lip or oral cancer early when they’re easy to treat, often successfully.