You may have heard that ultraviolet radiation, or sunlight, can kill the virus that causes COVID-19. This both is and isn’t true. Here’s what you need to know about UV light, how it’s used to sterilize medical tools, and whether or not it’s effective at eradicating the Coronavirus.
What Is UV Light & How Does It Work to Sterilize Objects?
UV light, or ultraviolet light, is a group of three light wavelengths on one end of the spectrum; UVA, UVB, and UVC. On the other end are infrared rays, and in the middle is what we see every day – the visible light spectrum.
In 1877, scientists Downes and Blunt discovered that their test tubes of Pasteur’s solution were free of microorganisms when stored in the sunlight and remained that way for many months. The scientists’ early discoveries suggested that the intensity, wavelength, duration, and type of light made a difference in its ability to neutralize viral and bacterial cells.
Does UV Sterilization Kill the Coronavirus?
UV works to destroy microorganisms by penetrating the thin cell wall and damaging its nucleic acids. This disrupts the chain structure of the organism’s DNA, which either causes it to die immediately or makes it unable to reproduce. Both are effective at rendering a once-harmful organism harmless.
We know that UV rays kill many different types of bacteria and viruses, but is the novel Coronavirus included? As Downes and Blunt’s experiments indicated, UV light does have the power to eradicate Coronavirus molecules in with a high enough concentration for a long enough exposure period.
This means that while specialized sterilization equipment can be designed to use ultraviolet light to effectively neutralize microorganisms, you won’t achieve the same effect with ordinary outdoor sunlight.
How UV Light Is Used in the Dental Industry
In the medical field, and more specifically the dental industry, UV light is used to sterilize equipment for use on the next patient. Dental tools are placed inside a machine designed to deliver high doses of concentrated full-spectrum ultraviolet light in a short period of time. They are then removed and either stored or used until the next time they require disinfecting.
Is UV Light Holistic?
UV light is naturally occurring, however, that doesn’t mean it’s not harmful. UVA and UVB exposure is well known to increase the risk of skin cancer in both men and women, and too much sun without protection can cause a painful sunburn that further raises the risk of skin damage and cancer.
Additionally, looking directly at sources of UV light can cause visual discomfort, blindness, and increase the risk of ocular diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration. That said, when used in a controlled and safe environment, UV light has the power to eradicate viral and bacterial components without the use of chemical sprays or harmful disinfectants.
We use UV light emitted by specially designed machines to disinfect our dental tools and help purify the air inside our office. Patients do not come into contact with any of the sources of UV light we use for sanitization purposes.
Book Your Safer Dental Appointment at Green Dentistry Today
At Green Dentistry, our goal has always been to create safer ways for patients to obtain dental health care. From technologically advanced mercury filling removal to using fluoride-free products during your cleaning if you prefer, we work hard to reduce our patients’ exposure to harmful materials in dentistry.
We’re now proud to extend our dedication to holistic health to reducing the spread of the Coronavirus in our office and offering our patients a safer dentistry experience. Book your appointment with us today online or call to learn more.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.