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 Sparks 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:
- Gum Disease
- Weak or Underdeveloped Teeth
- Increased Risk for Depression
- Weakened Bones
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.
- Dry Mouth
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 Sparks. 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.
- Lip Cancer
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 Sparks 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.
If you or members of your family have been itching, sniffling, and sneezing lately, allergies may be to blame. In fact, a recent study shows that allergies may be starting earlier and be more severe than ever before. This could mean that more and more people are experiencing the side effects of high pollen counts, which is unpleasant in and of itself. But your dentist in Sparks also wants you to know that allergies can also cause the body to react in such a way that could increase the risk for cavities and other dental problems.
Mucky Mucus & Mouth Breathing
We’ve all experienced the surge of mucky mucus thanks to seasonal allergies. No matter how unpleasant this feeling is, it’s important to know that it’s a natural response. When we come in contact with an allergen, the body will overproduce mucus, which in turn will cause a stuffy nose. This can make it hard to breathe properly out of the nose, causing us to breathe from the mouth. While the intake of oxygen is sure to please the body, the mouth may disagree.
Why is Mouth Breathing a Bad Thing?
While allergies themselves don’t necessarily directly cause oral health problems, the symptoms can, such as mouth breathing due to a buildup of mucus and a stuffy nose. When we breathe out of our mouths instead of our noses, our mouths dry out faster than normal. Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, and a healthy mouth needs saliva in order to stay healthy. Without it, bad bacteria can linger around and cause bad breath, wear away at protective tooth enamel, cause cavities, and can even result in gum disease. Additionally, and not necessarily related to allergies, mouth breathing while sleeping can be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can cause someone to stop breathing during sleep, sometimes several times a night. Signs of mouth breathing that should be reported to your dentist in Sparks include snoring and abrupt awakenings.
As if the overproduction of mucus potentially contributing to cavities concerns wasn’t enough, this mucus can also cause pain. An excessive amount of mucus can put pressure on the sinuses, which you may feel in your face or head. But this pressure can also extend to the maxillary sinuses, a nearby neighbor to the roots and nerves of the back teeth. When the maxillary sinuses are inflamed, it can put pressure on those nearby tooth nerves and cause discomfort.
Allergy Medicine Can Help… And Hurt
Anyone suffering from allergies, or who has a child dealing with the symptoms, will often turn to allergy medication to alleviate the uncomfortable side effects of a flare-up. While these medications can relieve some of the stuffiness, itchiness, and drippiness, they too can sometimes cause dry mouth. But lucky for you, your dentist in Sparks knows a few tricks that can reduce the likelihood of experiencing negative side effects of dry mouth, such as:
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Using lubricating mouthwash
- Drinking water
- Sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom
Allergy season can feel neverending, but we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.