Sunlight & Vitamin D – It Does a Mouth & Body Good

by | May 22, 2019 | Oral Health, Periodontal Health

Vitamin D, we’ve noted before, is crucial for healthy teeth and also plays an important role in strengthening the immune system and warding off depression and fatigue. Both of those are more common in the dark days of winter, of course. Now that summer is just about here, there’ll be lots of opportunities to get good, regular doses of D.

But did you know that “the sunshine vitamin” fosters healthy gums, as well? Indeed, it does, fighting inflammation – the root of many chronic diseases – and tamping down C-reactive protein (CRP), a major marker of inflammation.

Specifically, we’re talking about vitamin D3 – D in its most useful form. It’s created by a photochemical reaction on the skin, aided and abetted by sunlight’s ultraviolet radiation, though it can also be found in oily fish, egg yolks, and butter, as well as in supplements.

And when you don’t have enough of it, problems can arise.

One study published earlier this year in the Journal of Periodontal Research explored the relationship between vitamin D status and periodontal (gum) health in lab mice. The team found that restricting D intake led to upper jawbone loss and increased inflammation in the gums.

They also found that applying vitamin D to the gums reduced that inflammation.

Given the impact of vitamin D deficiency on the upper bony ridge of the jawbone, this is especially important for women who have taken Fosamax or other bone-modifying drugs. The more jawbone that’s lost, the less stable the teeth it supports. This can ultimately mean tooth loss.

So D status is also important to all of us as we age, since both osteoporosis and periodontal disease increase with age, as well. But as one 2018 paper summed up,

An analysis of the literature shows that vitamin D plays a significant role in maintaining healthy periodontal and jaw bone tissues, alleviating inflammation processes, stimulating post-operative healing of periodontal tissues and the recovery of clinical parameters.

Most of us can get enough vitamin D through regular exposure to sunlight – though how much you need each day depends on factors such as your skin tone, weight, how much skin is exposed, your geographic location, weather conditions, and more. There are apps and other online tools to help you calculate your optimal sun time.

Don’t go overboard on sunscreen – and do pay attention to the chemicals that enter your skin via the sunscreen you choose – but be careful about burning. Using sun-protective clothing during the highest exposure time of day is wise.

As for supplements: While pharma companies (and, increasingly, the FDA) tell us supplements are worthless and may be harmful to health, take that with a grain of salt. What would they rather sell you instead?

Good quality D3 supplements can be a boon if your sunlight time is limited. Just be aware that 1) healthy, whole food remains the best source of the nutrients your body needs to thrive; and 2) supplementing to excess can cause problems or imbalances in your body’s biochemical processes.

Supplements are most effective when used wisely. If needed, nutritional counseling and testing can help tune up your pathway to healthier teeth, gums, and jaws.

Now, enjoy the outdoors and catch some rays!

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