These days, everyone who has a job should be grateful for their opportunity. But that doesn’t mean your working conditions are ideal for your health. Your workplace can be one of the most serious impediments to your health, including your oral health.
Understanding the impact your job is having on your oral health can help you counter some of these influences and take care of your teeth. Nashville, TN dentist Dr. Kent E. White takes a comprehensive approach to dentistry that understands your lifestyle is an important factor in maintaining your oral health.
Many Americans are routinely dehydrated at work. Dehydration can be very bad for your oral health. Saliva is the body’s first line of defense against oral bacteria, and when you’re dehydrated, you don’t have as much of it. In a dry mouth, bacteria can flourish, increasing your risk for cavities and gum disease. The risk for cavities is even more serious because with less saliva to protect teeth, it takes less acid to damage your tooth enamel.
Everyone is at risk for dehydration, and estimates say perhaps 80% of workers are dehydrated at their job. There’s even higher risk for anyone who does strenuous work, works outside, or works in a hot and dry environment.
Other people may have endangered teeth because their work is the opposite of strenuous: it’s boring. People who are bored at work are likely to engage in snacking behavior, which gives oral bacteria more fuel to use to reproduce and to attack teeth.
And don’t forget the role of your caffeinated beverages in fueling bacteria. Sipping coffee and tea with added sugar all day can dramatically increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. And if you’re getting your caffeine from colas, it’s even worse, since pop not only has sugar, it’s highly acidic and can erode your tooth enamel. Plus, let’s not forget the staining that these beverages cause can discolor teeth, although it does respond well to teeth whitening.
Workplace injuries can be dental injuries. Many of the common workplace accidents can lead to dental injuries, including falls, car accidents, and workplace violence. Some of the common dental injuries that occur in the workplace include chipped teeth, knocked-out teeth, and jaw trauma that may lead to TMJ and jaw pain.
It’s important to understand the types of accidents that are likely in your workplace and, where applicable, use proper safety equipment to help you protect your teeth.
Stress is a killer, but it’s not just your heart that feels the impact of workplace stress. Your teeth can suffer greatly, too. Chronic stress can impact your immune system, which can put you at greater risk for many kinds of sickness, including gum disease. Some people may stress eat as a result of their job, and their snacking is bad for their teeth.
You may engage in nervous habits like biting pens or fingernails, which can injure teeth and jaws. But one of the most damaging impacts of stress is usually teeth clenching. This can lead to worn, cracked, or fractured teeth. It can also contribute to your TMJ risk.
Equipment that regularly jolts your body can be damaging to your teeth. Using a jackhammer, driving a tractor, or employing some kinds of hand tools can be tooth-rattling.
You may clench your teeth against the stresses and feel concussive impacts between your teeth. Limiting your time in these jobs, following proper safety procedures, and, if recommended, wearing a mouthguard can all protect your teeth from injury.
Some workplaces are rife with bad habits. In addition to stress-related habits and between-meal snacking, some workplaces may encourage you to use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. These can all contribute to your risk of cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Once you adopt the workplace culture, it can be hard to get out of it without potentially offending your coworkers.
Learn to Be Healthy at Work
Your oral health is a key component of your general health. Just as poor oral health can have serious consequences for your overall health, so your oral health is impacted by all the rest of your lifestyle choices. Fortunately, restorative dentistry can rebuild previous damage and good lifestyle choices and prevent future damage.
To learn more about making lifestyle choices that promote good oral health in Nashville, TN, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment with Dr. White at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.