With the year just starting to really hot up there could be yet another reason to smile this summer with research showing getting some sun could be beneficial to gum health.
Research published in the journal of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology has reinforced previous studies1 in the connection between a lack of sunlight and gum disease.
Approximately one billion people around the world are estimated to be vitamin D deficient and as we get almost all of our intake through sunlight there is no excuse not to soak up some rays this summer in the search for healthier gums.
Gum disease is a swelling or soreness of the supporting tissues around the teeth and is one of the main causes of tooth loss in adults.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, explains why it is so important to get outside this summer: "Gum disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world and can lead to abscesses, the loosening of teeth and in some cases the removal of permanent teeth.
"People sometimes feel they are helpless when it comes to preventative measures in regards to gum disease and it is important that they know the basics. While getting a bit on sunshine should not replace your daily oral health routine like twice daily brushing, it's a simple addition that could make a positive difference.
"Vitamin D plays a key role in the immune system by assisting in the activation of infection fighting cells and therefore providing a boost in immune response times.
"Vitamin D also helps keep bones and teeth healthy so I am urging people to get outside and smile this summer as what could be a better and easier way of looking after your mouth than simply going out into the sun?"
In addition to problems inside the mouth, in recent years gum disease has been linked with general health conditions such as diabetes, strokes, cardiovascular disease, poor pregnancy outcomes and even dementia.
"The first sign of gum disease is blood on your toothbrush. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. If this is happening to you, the first thing to do is visit your dental team for a thorough check-up of your teeth and gums," adds Dr Carter.
"There are many dangers of being in the sun too long and these are well documented. To stay safe you should always use the appropriate factor sunscreen and don't forget to protect your lips too as this is an area many people forget. Staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also important and as a bonus this is good for your teeth too. If you take all of these precautions then you should be able to safely enjoy being outside and topping up your vitamin D levels."
So the summer is here so get outside and while you are enjoying the sun you can be reassured that you are taking the first step to better oral health. Another great case of prevention being better than the cure and sunbathing is a preventative measure
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1. Dietrich T, Joshipura KJ, Dawson-Hughes B, Bischoff-Ferrari HA. Association between serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and periodontal disease in the US population. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:108-13