Sun’s Out, Gums Out: How Sunshine Benefits Oral Health

We’re heading into the dog days of summer, which typically means really hot days and a lot of sunshine. This can be great for enjoying some time in the pool, on the lake, or at the beach, but your dentist in Boerne wants you to know that all of this sun can also be great for your oral and overall health thanks to the extra boost of vitamin D. 

The Power of Vitamin D

The sun is a pretty powerful thing — it helps us grow food, it keeps us warm, and it prevents the planet from turning into a giant ice ball. But the sun’s benefits run even deeper. In fact, we have the sun to thank for helping our bodies stay happy and healthy thanks to a little thing called vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps our overall and oral health in so many ways, such as: 

  • Calcium Absorption – We all know that calcium is needed to help build strong bones and teeth. But your dentist in Boerne also knows that without vitamin D, the benefits of calcium don’t go as far. Calcium needs vitamin D in order to absorb properly and completely, and in order for your body to get all of the benefits of calcium. 
  • Protection Against Tooth Decay – Similarly to the above, several studies also suggest a positive correlation between vitamin D and the prevention of tooth decay. Researchers have even shown that vitamin D can lower the risk of tooth decay by 50%!
  • Immune System Support – Vitamin D can also help support the immune system and help it function properly. While this connection is complex, there is proof that vitamin D helps regulate and balance the immune system to protect us from germs, viruses, and infections. 

The best way to get vitamin D is through some good old fashioned sunshine. But as we all know, too much sun can have negative effects, such as a painful sunburn and an increased risk for skin cancer. Enjoy sunlight in moderation and know your limits. Most researchers agree that anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes of sunshine a day is all it takes to get enough vitamin D. 

Good Sources of Vitamin D

Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult, especially during winter months or over several days of dreary, rainy weather. When the sun isn’t an option, you can get your vitamin D by choosing foods that contain it. Some foods that are good sources of vitamin D are: 

  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fortified cereal, orange juice, or yogurt 

Knowing all of the benefits associated with sunshine and vitamin D, trust your dentist in Boerne when they say to get outside, enjoy the weather, and soak up some rays. Just make sure you limit your exposure to direct sunlight and wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time.

Risks of Oral Piercings

Piercings of all kinds are popular, especially among adolescents, and can help people feel a sense of individuality or self-expression. Plus, they tend to have the connotation of being cool or trendy. However, when it comes to oral piercings such as tongue or lip piercings, they also come with a host of potential problems and concerns for your dentist in Boerne

Potential Problems with Oral Piercings

Besides the fact that oral piercings are painful to get, there are other potential problems you may not have considered, but that are important to know, before getting your tongue or lip pierced. 

  • Permanent Changes. When a piercing is new, it’s common to experience changes in the way you speak and eat. After all, there’s a brand new obstruction in the way that your mouth needs to get used to. While these changes are usually temporary, there’s always the possibility of permanent changes thanks to nerve damage. Our tongues and faces contain a complex web of nerves and if a needle hits one the wrong way, your sense of taste can be permanently altered or you may experience irreversible numbness. 
  • Tooth Damage. Nerves aren’t the only thing at risk for damage when it comes to a lip or tongue piercing. In fact, one of the most common concerns for your dentist in Boerne is the increased likelihood of tooth damage. You see, many people who have an oral piercing tend to play with the jewelry habitually, and this constant hitting of metal on teeth means a greater risk of chipped or broken teeth or damaged enamel. All of these forms of tooth damage require early dental treatment before they have a chance to develop into more serious and painful problems. 
  • Gum Disease. The gums are another area that can sustain damage from an oral piercing, which is particularly concerning. When the gum tissue is damaged, it allows mouth bacteria to work their way up under the gum line and find a permanent home. This leads to an infection in the gums, or gum disease. Gum disease can not only cause chronic bad breath and tooth loss, but it can also affect the rest of the body and increases the risk of heart disease and even certain cancers.
  • Infection. While all potential risks associated with oral piercings are serious, perhaps the most serious concern is infection. Infections can happen with any piercing and are actually quite common. However, oral piercings pose a unique problem. Since these piercings are in or around the mouth, and the mouth is naturally loaded with bacteria, the chance of infection may be higher. Additionally, if an infection does occur, the dark, wet, and warm environment of the mouth provides an ideal place for bacteria to multiply and thrive. This can make an infection serious. In fact, an oral piercing infection can even result in swelling of the tongue, which can block the airway and make it difficult to breathe. 

Decrease Your Risk

If you want to get an oral piercing, we encourage you to take some steps to decrease your risk of complications such as:

  • Picking the Right Piercer. Selecting a professional, trustworthy person to pierce your tongue or lip is the best way to initially protect yourself. Make sure the person you pick has a good reputation and follows sanitization standards. 
  • Practicing Proper Care. Taking care of your oral piercing can greatly help decrease the likelihood of a problem. Make sure you clean the area thoroughly and rinse your mouth after eating to lower the chance of infection. 
  • Following Good Oral Hygiene. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and see their dentist in Boerne twice a year. However, this may be even more important for those with an oral piercing. 
  • Knowing the Signs of Infection. If you notice any redness, fever, pain, or swelling seek medical attention immediately. 

We want everyone to feel the freedom to express themselves as they wish, and we want them to do so safely. If you’re considering an oral piercing, talk with your dentist and do your research before jumping in feet first.