I have spent many years as a cosmetic dentist in Manhattan, New York and every sunny day I see the effect a sunny day has on the city. People from all five boroughs flood the parks to take in the rays, work on their tan, and enjoy the weather. Little do these sun worshippers know, but they are also extending the life and health of their teeth! That’s because vitamin D, sometime referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” is made by the body through casual exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is just as essential as calcium for forming and maintaining strong teeth and bones.
Vitamin D and Calcium are both equally necessary to counteract bone deficiencies and reduce the weakening of bone tissue. If one does not obtain the proper amounts of vitamin D and calcium, they will most certainly encounter bone loss and inflammation of many of the tissues in the body. Findings show that inflammation is a major symptom of gum diseases, which draws the conclusion that a deficiency of calcium and vitamin D may be a major risk factor for periodontal disease.
Many hours of research have been devoted to finding the best means of obtaining the required amount of vitamin D. So far, basking in the sun is at the top of the list. In fact, during winter months when the sun tends to hide away, researchers record huge drops in the levels of vitamin D in their patients. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure at least two times per week is usually sufficient to provide adequate vitamin D. During those winter months, when the sun tends to hide away, it is advised to eat foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, eggs, sardines and tuna fish.
Now, it is not advised to forego sunblock or reduce the amount of times you brush your teeth if you are hitting the beach regularly. In fact, the amount of sun you are currently soaking in is probably up to par with the recommended level. Sunblocks will allow the proper amount of vitamin D to enter the body. Exposure to the sun is not a cure to periodontal disease, it is simply is a valuable tool to combat a stubborn and rampant danger to our bodies.
If you feel that you are not receiving adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium, it is very important to talk to your dentist or physician about the possibility of taking supplements or providing other means to put you on the right track.
Daniell Mishaan, D.M.D. is a Cosmetic and Restorative dentist in the Garment District in midtown Manhattan. He serves patients from all over New York City and is open Sundays for all patients including emergencies.