You spend your entire day at work. This can be good for your teeth, or it can be bad. To some extent, you have control over the risk, but your job may put you at risk for certain tooth hazards. Here are some of the potential hazards your job may hold for your teeth.
Dehydration can dramatically impact your oral health. When you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t produce enough saliva. Saliva protects your teeth and gums from oral bacteria, so when levels are down, you are at elevated risk for gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath, and other daily effects. People who do strenuous labor, work outside, or work in a hot or dry environment are at the highest risk, but estimates say that perhaps 80% of American workers are dehydrated to some degree at work.
Between meal snacking gives oral bacteria extra fuel for their attacks on teeth and gums. We’ve already talked about the dangers of office cake, but there are many other types of snacks that people enjoy in an office environment. Often, people snack because they are bored, distracted, or tired. And drinking caffeinated beverages also contributes to the problem. Coffee or tea with sugar in it can be bad, but even worse are colas and energy drinks, which not only have sugar, they’re very acidic so they can erode teeth as well as fuel decay.
Some jobs have a high rate of work-related injuries. Depending on the job, these injuries may affect your teeth and jaws. You may suffer chipped teeth, knocked out teeth, or jaw trauma that leads to TMJ. Falls, car accidents, equipment accidents, and even workplace violence are all common causes of workplace dental injuries.
And don’t forget that work-related fitness activities such as sports can also lead to dental injuries.
Many jobs come with high levels of stress. Stress in the workplace is bad for your body in general, and it can be hard on your teeth, too. Stress in the workplace can increase snacking and other bad habits that put teeth at risk. It can also cause teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism), that leads to tooth damage and TMJ. If you regularly have stress headaches, your teeth may be at risk.Chronic stress also impacts your immune system, which can increase your risk of gum disease.
Some jobs involve working with equipment that repeatedly jolts the body, such as a jackhammer. Driving a tractor, loader, or other construction equipment or using many different hand tools can also cause repeated jolts to the body. This can cause you to clench your teeth against the stresses or cause concussive impacts between teeth. If you work under these conditions, a mouthguard can help protect your teeth.
Although the workplace may not require you to engage in unhealthy habits, the workplace culture may encourage you to take up certain habits that are damaging to your teeth. This may include tobacco or alcohol use. These can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer.
Learn to Be Healthy at Work
Talking to your dentist about your workplace environment can help you head off potential dangers before they require reconstructive dentistry.
If you are looking for a Wilmington, NC dentist who can help you maintain your oral health whether you’re on the clock or on vacation, please call 910-392-6060 today for an appointment with Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.