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Can you sunburn your teeth?

May 27, 2015

You protect your skin from the sun, but what about your teeth?

Can you sunburn your teeth? It’s an interesting question isn’t it? If anyone is within earshot of you right now, yell out “can you sunburn your teeth?” You’re likely to get curious responses ranging from “no way” to “can you?”

We all know not to sit in the sun with our mouth open for extended periods of time. Seriously, please don’t do that. But the sun does affect your teeth through your skin. In fact, a healthy amount of sun is actually good for your teeth. Sun helps your body create Vitamin D, which is just as essential as calcium for healthy teeth and bones.

But back to the burning question: Can you sunburn your teeth? The short answer is no. You most likely cannot sunburn your teeth. Shwew! Your lips on the other hand can sunburn. In fact, your lips might be the most susceptible to sunburn.

“I think people would be surprised to learn how many cases of lip cancer I have found during routine exams,” said Dr. Elizabeth Rydell, Chief Dental Officer, Midwest Dental Support Center. “People who spend a lot of time outdoors working or playing sports, are the most at risk.” The good news is that if caught early, it is almost always treatable. It’s important not to rely on regular sunscreen to protect your lips, choose a lip balm with a minimum of SPF 15. It is designed for your lips, and it will stick better. And just like with sunscreen, remember to reapply it every couple hours.

Other little known facts about teeth and summer

The swimming pool

It is important to brush your teeth after swimming in a chlorinated pool.  Some swimming pools have extra high chlorine levels that can weaken your teeth.

Stay hydrated

We don’t think too much about saliva and that’s probably okay, but it’s an important defense against decay and bad breath. Staying hydrated helps to prevent teeth decay and protects your gums.

Guard your mouth

Summer is the time for outdoor sports and you can protect your teeth, cheeks, gums and lips with a low-cost mouth guard. It could save you from a knocked out or chipped tooth, and it will prevent you from grinding your teeth during the big game.

Don’t use your teeth as a bottle opener

No really, just don’t. We’ve all seen someone open a bottle with their teeth. An amazing feat? Nope, but a great way to cause micro fractures in your teeth. Using your teeth to rip open potato chip bags or to crush ice are also no nos.


There are lots of reasons to smile all summer long. Evidence suggests that smiling reduces stress and helps your heart. So show those teeth! Brush twice a day, floss daily and smile big. You'll feel better when you do.