Heatwave – good for our teeth?

Vitamin D, essential for bone development and naturally produced by your body when exposed to sunlight, may help prevent tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease.

Previous research has suggested that Vitamin D (in other words, the 'sunshine vitamin') could improve gum health1, and a review of 24 studies spanning 60 years revealed vitamin D could reduce the incidence of tooth decay2.

Last week, the UK had six consecutive days of temperatures above 30 degrees – the first time since 2006. Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: 'We have just been through a long, cold winter, which could mean many people are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Add to this the increasing number of children with tooth decay, and it suddenly it doesn't seem as frivolous.

'Teeth aren't exactly bones, but they have the same problems if they're not strong enough. The same applies to your gums. If they are inflamed or swollen, you're more likely to suffer from severe gum disease, the largest cause of tooth loss.'

Nigel Carter encourages regular brushing twice a day to prevent and lower the risk of gum disease and general health problems. He warns about the long term health problems of snacking on fruit juices, fizzy and alcoholic drinks, ice creams and iced coffees, adding: 'If you're going to have these, it's best not to snack on them throughout the day. Keeping them to mealtimes is better than exposing your teeth to a constant acid attack.

If you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt. Drink plenty of water too, as it will keep you hydrated and be good for your teeth.'

1. E.N. Alshouibi, E.K. Kaye, H.J. Cabral, C.W. Leone, and R.I. Garcia., Vitamin D and Periodontal Health in Older Men., J DENT RES., August 2013 92: 689-693, first published on June 20, 2013 doi:10.1177/0022034513495239

2. Hujoel, P. P. (2013), Vitamin D and dental caries in controlled clinical trials: systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 71: 88-97. Doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00544.x

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