Has your little one played outside today? Whether you have a little miss (or mister) sunshine, you might be surprised that catching a few extra rays of sunshine can improve your child’s health. Spending a little time with Mother Nature comes with many benefits, including access to much-needed vitamin D. Continue reading to learn how the “sunshine vitamin” benefits your child’s teeth and gums.
What exactly is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Something that makes this vitamin unique is that it’s a nutrient that your body can naturally make when the skin is exposed to sunlight, or it can be obtained via consumption.
What role does vitamin D play in bodily functions?
Vitamin D receptors are sprinkled throughout the body. This suggests that vitamin D has a more significant role in overall health than we know. Some stand-out highlights of vitamin D are that it:
- Aids calcium absorption, which is an essential component for strengthening teeth and bones
- Supports muscle movement
- Aids the immune system
How does vitamin D support dental health?
Although you might not need another excuse to go outside today, it’s pretty amazing that the human body turns sunlight into a vitamin that is crucial for tooth, gum, and bone growth and development. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to these two prevalent yet serious chronic oral health issues:
- Cavities: Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. As previously mentioned, vitamin D is essential for strengthening teeth. So, if your child’s vitamin D levels are unregulated, this can cause their teeth to become more susceptible to tooth decay and dental fractures. In a recent study, researchers concluded that vitamin D levels are significantly associated with the occurrence of tooth decay.
- Gum Disease: Low vitamin D levels are linked to an increased risk of gum disease.
What are some sources of vitamin D?
If your child’s pediatrician diagnoses your little one with a vitamin D deficiency, here are three ways that your child can obtain more vitamin D:
- Spend an adequate time outside: The amount of sunshine each person needs varies and largely depends on the time of day and year, your child’s skin tone, and how much skin is exposed. Also, it’s vital to be mindful that sunscreen can protect your child’s skin from harmful rays that burn and potentially cause skin cancer, but it does prohibit vitamin D production.
2. Consume a diet high in vitamin D: Many dairy products and cereals are fortified with vitamin D. But some natural sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (like salmon) and fish oil.
3. Supplement vitamin D: If your child is still vitamin D deficient (even with time outside and a diet high in vitamin D), we encourage you to ask your child’s pediatrician about a sufficient dosage for vitamin D supplements.
Here’s Another Way to Improve Your Child’s Dental Health
Between sunlight, vitamin-D-rich food, and supplements, your child should be able to obtain the vitamin D that they need for a strong and healthy smile. Aside from consuming enough vitamin D, another way to take of your child’s dental health is to schedule consistent children’s dentistry appointments.