From enjoying outdoor activities to getting the perfect tan, most people value time spent in the sun. Moreover, most of us have heard that moderate sun exposure has a host of health benefits including reducing the risk of certain cancers, fostering bone health, and boosting the immune system. One less well-known reason for treasuring the sun’s rays has to do with your teeth.
Sunshine aids in tooth health by helping the body produce vitamin D, which in turn helps the body to absorb calcium, one of the building blocks of healthy teeth. Calcium is crucial for healthy tooth development in the early stages of a person’s life since this mineral is central to the molecular structure of tooth enamel. Calcium is also necessary to maintain strong, healthy teeth over the course of a person’s lifetime. This is because teeth are subject to ongoing calcium ion loss on the molecular level through the lifelong process of tooth demineralization. If the calcium in teeth is not constantly replenished, enamel erosion, tooth decay, and eventually cavities arise, the dental problems behind costly fillings and tooth extractions. Thus, tooth enamel needs to be constantly remineralized with calcium ions to prevent destruction of the teeth structure.
Most of the calcium found in the body is stored in the teeth and bones, however the body requires calcium for other important tasks such as blood clotting, nerve functioning, and heart regulation. Low levels of vitamin D can impede the absorption of calcium on the cellular level, result in calcium being leeched from the teeth and directed toward other bodily functions, a process that weakens the teeth.
Moderate sun exposure is one of the best ways to maximize vitamin D production and thereby maximize the calcium absorption needed for strong teeth. Sunshine, through its positive effect on vitamin D and calcium levels in the body, also helps combat infection and inflammation, the underlying mechanisms of most periodontal diseases. For all of the above reasons, sunshine should be considered an important component of a good oral care regimen.
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