Is your job bad for your teeth? Find out…

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WHEN you think of risk factors for poor dental health, what comes to mind?

Not brushing enough, eating too much candy and avoiding the dentist might be on your list. Here’s another one to add: Your job.

Some occupations can have a negative impact on your teeth, increasing your chances of cavities or cancer. Find out what hidden risks your industry might pose for your teeth and gums and what you can do.

Dehydration

Did you know that dehydration leads to bad breath, tooth decay and even gum disease? With up to 80 per cent of American workers estimated to work while at least slightly dehydrated, that’s not a good situation for employees’ oral health.

You’re particularly at risk if you work outside or do strenuous labour, but even desk workers should take care to consume enough water and electrolytes.

Industries at risk: Construction, forestry, mining, agriculture, gardening and landscaping, athletics, firefighting, and military.

Smoking

Several occupations have a higher-than-average ratio of smokers to non-smokers. Whether your workplace offers additional breaks to smokers or you and your colleagues find a quick smoke as the best way to release stress, you might want to reconsider your daily cigarettes. Not only is smoking one of the top risk factors for oral cancer, it also promotes bad breath, gum disease, and cavities.

Industries at risk: Mining, construction, food service, waste management, real estate, manufacturing, and retail.

Dental injuries

Whether from a fall, misuse of equipment or workplace violence, dental injuries can pose a threat in a wide range of industries. Work-related dental injuries include chipped or cracked teeth, tooth loss, and jaw trauma leading to temporomandibular disorders.

Industries at risk: Health care and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, security, and athletics.

Alcohol

Like tobacco, alcohol is linked to oral cancer, tooth decay, and gum disease. In fact, your risk is multiplied if you smoke and drink at the same time. Even if your boss doesn’t let you drink on the job, several industries are linked to high alcohol consumption and alcoholism.

Industries at risk: Mining, construction, hotels and restaurants, arts and entertainment, bartending, music, gardening, and agriculture.

Tooth grinding and jaw pain

If you ride a tractor or use a jackhammer, you might have to worry about “occupational” bruxism — jobs that make you grind your teeth. But even if you’re an indoor worker, you might be at risk for bruxism and related temporomandibular disorders.

In a surprising twist, working in dentistry poses a higher risk for bruxism and temporomandibular disorders than most industries; and the high-tech sector is similarly dangerous.

Industries at risk: Technology, dentistry, agriculture, and construction.

If you’re looking to improve your oral health and a career change isn’t in your future, follow these tips to keep your mouth healthy:

• Brush your teeth twice a day;

• Floss at least once a day;

• Drink water regularly;

• Avoid tobacco and alcohol;

• Use a mouthguard, if needed; and

• Visit the dentist for regular exams and cleanings.

 

Dr Sharon Robinson, DDS, has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa.

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