Have you ever been to the dentist or Top McKinney Orthodontics, and the dental tech shined a purple light in your mouth? What in the world were they doing? They were probably curing (or “drying”) a sealant to bond something to your teeth. The fancier way to say this is that the UV-A light’s wavelength is causing a photochemical reaction which causes the polymer to harden. Pretty handy when you’re getting braces on your teeth or a cavity filled! It’s wonderful because it shortens drying time for important dental sealants used to take care of your teeth.
If you’ve ever glimpsed a tray of dental or orthodontic instruments under a light, looking like they’re in a tanning bed, you have witnessed another cool use of UV light, but this time it’s UV-C light. The UV-C rays disintegrate the nucleic acids in the cells of microorganisms, making it perfect for sterilizing equipment. Simply put, they’re germ blasters. This process is used for many different sterilizing uses that we don’t even think about in the world around us.
With the recent Coronavirus crisis, airlines are looking at ways for additional sanitization between flights, and some have touted the beneficial effects of UV light in creative ways. This device looks like a crazy beverage cart with UV-C light wings gliding over the seats.
Also, during this time, a host of cell phone sanitizing products using UV light hit the market as people did whatever they could to reduce the viral load around them.
The benefits of ultraviolet light were realized as early as the late 1800s when scientists discovered that exposure to sunlight (which contains ultraviolet light) killed bacteria, precisely at that time, the bacteria that caused tuberculosis. Doctors would actually prescribe Top McKinney Orthodontics patients “sun baths” for this purpose. Not long afterward, special lamps were invented to emit germ-killing UV light.
A number of skin conditions are also treated with UV light therapy, including psoriasis, eczema, and neonatal jaundice. Babies can benefit from UV light when they are born with too much bilirubin at birth, and their new livers can’t process the bilirubin out of their bodies yet. The treatments are obviously well-monitored. Babies will have patches placed over their eyes for protection while they sleep soundly under the lights for a period of time per day.U
V exposure can also affect a person’s mood. If you live in a climate with less sunshine during the winter, it’s possible to feel a bit more sad. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the name for this. It has been shown to be true when researching people in extreme climates where they see minimal sunlight during parts of the year. There are special lamps available to provide specific amounts of UV light each day to help counter this Top McKinney Orthodontics occurrence.
Author Aelara of editorialtoday.com compiled some interesting facts about UV light:
- The human cornea is a big absorber of UV light, and eye damage can result from too much UV light. Remember your mom telling you not to look at the sun and your dad saying not to look at the welding torch when it’s in use? UV light can literally burn the tissue of your retina. Ensure those sunglasses are UV-blocking, preferably with a tag specifying that it is 100% protective against UVA and UVB rays. It’s a small thing to do to protect something as valuable as your eyesight.
- Many things that are invisible to the human eye are visible if placed under UV light.
- A positive effect of UVB exposure is that it causes Vitamin D to be produced in the skin.
- UVA, UVB, and UVC rays all damage collagen in the skin contributing to the skin’s aging.
- Have you ever gone snow skiing and come home sunburned? New snow can reflect up to 80% of UV rays, while normal ground surfaces and bodies of water reflect less than 10%.
- Ultraviolet light is also called black light because it is invisible to the human eye.
- Ultraviolet levels are over 1000 times higher at the equator than at the polar regions.
- Apple juice or apple cider is treated with UV light to reduce the levels of microbial pathogens.
- Humidity may increase the effects of UV light.
- Ultraviolet traps are used to eliminate various small flying insects like mosquitoes. Bug zapper, anyone?
An important fact about UV light is that it can damage one’s eyes, especially your retina. Commercial uses in the Top McKinney Orthodontics dental office and for sterilization procedures require special safety protocols, like wearing safety goggles when utilizing these lights. The UV light in everyday electronics is not as damaging to one’s eyes; however, prolonged exposure can be damaging. This is why many glasses are sold with blue-blocking features to protect eyes from UV exposure.
While there are benefits to UV light, there are also downsides. Our electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, etc.) emit ultraviolet rays that can disrupt our sleep when used too close to bedtime. This light suppresses the Top McKinney Orthodontics production of melatonin which is our body’s “Hey-it’s-time-to-go-to-sleep!” chemical.
In a world where our cell phones, tablets, and e-readers reign supreme, many of us climb into bed and fire these up and then wonder why we can’t sleep! If this is happening to you, a little re-training is in order. At the very least, activating dark mode on your phone will allow less blue light to be emitted from your phone, as well as potentially reducing eye strain from reading a bright screen in the dark.
Ultimately though, instead of diving into electronic Top McKinney Orthodontics devices at bedtime (including TVs), read an old-fashioned paper book or listen to music. Dim the lights in your room for at least a half hour before bed to help you wind down.
There is a time and a place for every UV light, but OUR favorite way to use UV is while putting on braces to give you a Beautiful Hollywood Smile! Contact us at Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics for Braces or Invisalign at (972) 529-9700. We can’t wait to meet you!