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Sunshine for your teeth

Spring and fall evenings will be brighter beginning in 2007 when daylight savings time will be extended by almost a month.

Many people feel better emotionally when the days are longer. More daylight may also extend the health of people’s teeth and bones.

The body makes vitamin D, sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, from sun exposure. It's as essential as calcium for healthy teeth and bones, according to a report published in the September issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

"Both vitamin D and calcium counteract deficiencies and reduce bone resorption," said Dr. Charles Hildebolt from the Department of Radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Numerous studies indicate that vitamin D and calcium deficiencies result in bone loss and increased inflammation. Inflammation is a well recognized symptom of periodontal diseases, which is why it has been suggested that calcium and vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for periodontal diseases."

Periodontal diseases are classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis can lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.

According to the National Institutes of Health, season, geographic latitude, time of day, cloud cover, smog and sunscreen affect ultraviolet ray exposure and vitamin D synthesis. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure at least two times per week to the face, arms, hands or back is usually sufficient to provide adequate vitamin D.

People who live in an area with limited sun exposure may want to eat foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, eggs, sardines and tuna fish, researchers say.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

10/03/2005

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