The Summer Sun Can Help Protect Your Teeth

You might not realize it but while you’re soaking in the sun you’re also helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is known as an essential component for healthy bones. However, Cerritos, CA, oral surgeon Dr. Hofkes says few people realize vitamin D is vital for oral health.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds, which include vitamins D1, D2, and D3. A body can make its own vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, converting it into a hormone called “activated vitamin D” or “calcitriol.” Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium, and when vitamin D levels are low, calcium is flushed from the body.

How does vitamin D protect my teeth?

Besides promoting strong, healthy teeth by regulating the absorption of calcium, recent studies have found other significant benefits between vitamin D and oral health:

  • Vitamin D reduces the risk of tooth decay by producing cathelicidin and denfensins, antibacterial peptides that fight bacteria linked to cavities.
  • Calcitriol helps regulate the immune system and protect against inflammation, thus reducing susceptibility to gum disease and ensuring teeth stay anchored in the sockets.
  • Pregnant women with sufficient levels of vitamin D decrease the risk of future tooth decay in their children.

How can I ensure I’m getting enough vitamin D?

Because the body produces vitamin D through direct exposure to sunlight, you only need about 10 minutes daily of the midday sun to get your required dose. However, if you’re unable to soak up some rays, you can also get vitamin D through supplements and certain foods such as the flesh and liver oils of fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolk, shrimp, and some mushrooms.

The National Institutes of Health recommends these daily intake levels of vitamin D:

  • Children, Teens and Adults Up to Age 70 (including pregnant or breastfeeding women)—600 IU
  • Adults Over Age 70—800 IU

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

At Cerritos Dental Surgery, Dr. Hofkes is dedicated to providing you with the care to help you achieve a healthy, brilliant smile. For a consultation, contact us today at 562-584-4082. The Cerritos Dental Surgery office is conveniently located to patients residing in Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, Fullerton, and surrounding communities.