Have you ever wondered why you get colds or the flu during colder seasons but not during warmer ones? It’s because sunlight, or specifically the UV rays in sunlight, can kill viruses & bacteria. It’s one of nature’s cleaning agents, & dental offices have started using it, too.
Know Your UV Rays
There are three types of UV light: UV-A, UV-B & UV-C. All types come from the sun, but only the first two types make it through Earth’s atmosphere. However, we have been able to successfully create UV-C light to emulate those rays that are blocked by the atmosphere.
Each type of UV light has a slightly different wavelength, which changes how effective it is at killing viruses, as well as how dangerous it is to humans. UV-A light has the longest wavelength & is the gentlest of the three types. It is known for causing skin aging marks, like wrinkles & age spots. UV-B has a medium wavelength & causes sunburns & skin cancer with direct contact with skin. UV-C is the most harmful to skin but also the most effective at killing viruses.
Use as a Disinfectant
UV-C is the most damaging of the three types of UV light. It neutralizes viruses & bacteria by breaking down genetic material, making them unable to replicate themselves. Viruses that can’t multiply can’t spread. This makes UV-C the best candidate for UV light sterilization technology.
This technology comes in many forms, from handheld wands for spot cleaning to UV lights installed for broader use in offices. However, whatever specific technology dental offices decide to invest in, it’s important they follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines when they use it.
Shine Light on Caution
Using UV-C as a disinfectant should be done carefully & with protective gear to prevent exposure to the light. It may seem like a good idea to step into the UV-C light to quickly disinfect yourself & your clothing, but that is extremely dangerous. Remember above we said UV-B causes sunburn & skin cancer? It does so after hours of exposure. UV-C causes the same damage in seconds.
Therefore, handwashing or using hand sanitizer is still the best way to keep yourself free of contaminants. Leave the UV sterilization to the professionals, but know that if your dentist uses this natural technology, you are in safe hands.