How does corporate life impact oral health

How does corporate life impact oral health feature image

October 6, 2021

“If you want to work in corporate, then you should know how to play chess!”    – Honeya

Whether one likes it or not, but that’s how the corporate world works. That’s the reason the corporate job vastly differs from any other job. The cutthroat competition, money-driven individuals, targets and deadlines, hardcore sales environment, tug of war between profit and sales everything literally takes a serious toll on the health of a corporate employee. Not many even realize that to climb that corporate ladder they are actually putting their health at stake.

In recent times, a lot of awareness has been created, highlighting the serious health issues pertaining to the stressful and sedentary corporate work culture. But what about oral health? An equal awareness and education regarding the importance of oral health is the need of the hour. Oral health is the gateway to general health and deserves equal attention, care, and maintenance!

Sneak Peak into the corporate lifestyle

Wake up! Show up! Work! Netflix! Eat! Sleep! Repeat!

Well, on a lighter note that’s how the lifestyle of a typical corporate employee can be summarized. The tight timelines, aggressive plans, long working hours are a sure shot invitation to many health disorders including oral diseases.

“You have to play the game if you want to get promoted.”

This famous phrase clearly depicts how stressful the corporate work culture is. A lot of studies and surveys have been conducted to study the health issues which most of the employees face while being part of the rat race. These studies found a few common symptoms like-

  • Stress
  • Smoking addiction.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Low immunity.
  • Cravings for sweets/chocolates/junk food. 
  • Dependance on beverages and hard drinks.

These symptoms if ignored in the initial stages can turn out to be very fatal. Hence, each and every corporate employee should make it a point to attend to these symptoms and seek help as soon as possible.

Let’s have a detailed look into each of these symptoms and how deeply it influences the oral health.

stressful-businesswoman-working-office-tired-bored

Stress in connection with oral health

According to a Canadian Dental Health Institute, almost 83% of working people under chronic stress presented with poor oral health. So how is chronic stress related to poor oral health? Well, employees under psychological stress present with low immune health, increased stress hormones, poor oral health practices, unhealthy lifestyles like alcohol and tobacco consumption, substance abuse, and poor diet. All these factors contribute greatly to the occurrence of dental caries and periodontal diseases (gum diseases).

A study conducted on the health of corporate employees indicated that around 22% had newly diagnosed hypertension, 10% with diabetes, 40% with dyslipidemia, 54% with depression and 40% with obesity. Since oral health is like a window to overall health, all of these major lifestyle disorders like diabetes, obesity, hypertension have their unique oral manifestations like swelling in the gums, bleeding gums, rampant dental caries, etc.

Not many of the working professionals realize that they actually have a tendency to grind their teeth due to chronic stress also known as bruxism. Bruxism is an uncontrolled neuromuscular activity in which people tend to grind their teeth and clench their jaw muscles. It’s a serious problem and a Dentist can clearly diagnose that the patient is under chronic stress by merely looking at his/her teeth. Bruxism if not interrupted at initial stages can cause extreme wear of teeth, at times even gross fractures of teeth.

business-man-smoking

You smoke, you invite dental problems

Smoking is also injurious to your teeth and gums. According to statistics, around 20% of corporate employees smoke cigarettes containing tobacco. Cigarette consumption was also found to be more in males than females by 44%. The tight deadlines, job insecurity, exhausting targets, biased work culture, unpredictable work hours naturally provoke an employee to light a cigarette. Around one-third of the corporate population are smokers. Smoking has a wide range of irreversible deleterious effects on the oral cavity like

  •  Bad breath.
  • Loss of taste
  • Teeth discoloration
  • Plaque and tartar deposits on teeth
  • Gum diseases.
  • Delayed wound healing following a tooth extraction
  • Mobility in teeth
  • Precancerous lesions in the mouth
  • Increased risk of oral cancers
  • Birth defects in children in case of female employees who smoked during pregnancy.

Anxiety struggles show on your teeth

There is a close connection between mind and body. For optimum general health, an equally healthy mind is very significant. So how does the mind affect oral health? Well, professionals suffering from any kind of mental health issues tend to ignore or avoid their daily simple activities like even brushing their teeth.

Thus, people who fail to maintain their basic oral hygiene invite multiple dental problems. Or on the contrary, many anxious individuals tend to vigorously brush their teeth which causes nothing but premature aging of teeth because of excessive wear caused due to over brushing.

Individuals battling with depression or anxiety sometimes present with eating disorders or Bulimia. Such people can have extensive wear of teeth due to dental erosion because of the profuse acidic vomits.

An alarming number of corporate employees these days are on antidepressants. On the flip side, these antidepressants also have few oral side effects like dry mouth, bad breath, and rampant dental caries.

Low immunity= poor oral health

Poor immune systems and oral health go hand in hand. Not many people know that low immunity has a direct impact on oral health. The constant tussle to meet the deadlines and extreme working hours makes an employee ignore his health which leads to low immunity. Around 50% of the working folks present with ‘stress ulcers’ as the most common oral manifestation.

Such individuals also present with gum swellings and chronic periodontal diseases which have a direct connection with immune dysfunction. Individuals with low immunity show a delayed response to wound healing post any oral surgical procedure. Some of the other oral symptoms related to low immunity are dry mouth and an increased tendency to be prone to oral fungal infections.

Rewarding yourself with those sweets

Corporate employees are inherently under chronic stress due to crazy work schedules. In such a situation, consumption of excessive sugary food/ chocolates/ junk food temporarily releases the feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin which actually act as a natural stress buster.

Sugar is undoubtedly the major factor in the development of dental caries and excessive consumption of sweetened foods increases the risk of progression of dental caries. In addition, the sedentary work culture, poor oral hygiene practices, and lack of awareness amongst the corporate professionals contribute more to the occurrence of dental caries.

As a matter of fact, tooth decay is one of the most frequent reasons for absence from work amongst the employees. As tooth pain is one of the most unbearable pain one can experience, people are not able to concentrate on their work and are forced to bunk office.

Say bye to sugary and acidic beverages

For corporate professionals, parties and get-togethers mean more booze and plenty of alcohol. Socializing over alcohol is the most common corporate trend while most of the business meetings actually take place at the bar.

It’s a proven fact that alcohol abuse is the second most common risk factor for oral cancer. Another most common oral side effect of alcohol consumption is dry mouth. Also, most of the time people tend to bite on hard ice while drinking alcohol. It is a very harmful habit that can lead to cracks, chipping, or even fracture of teeth.

Interestingly, tea and coffee have become the most popular in-office beverages and have created a new breed of tea/coffee lovers (dependents). In fact, long business meetings and presentations lose the balance of how much tea/coffee to drink and most of the employees end up binging on 7-8 cups daily.

That’s too much! Frequent consumption of beverages and soft drinks leads to erosion of teeth. The carbonated soft drinks have a low pH, which subjects the enamel of the tooth to acid dissolution i.e., dental erosion.

Highlights

  • Oral health should be made an integral part of all Organizations. Such efforts naturally make the employees feel valued and satisfied.
  • Many of the working professionals miss their work because of oral problems which are easily preventable.
  • Oral health is not only about tooth decay or tooth pain, but has a wider impact on general health and working efficiency of an individual.
  • Scientific studies have shown that people with an optimal oral health have better cardiac health and circulatory system which indirectly increases the work stamina of the employees.
  • Organizations should work on creating an ‘Oral Health Profile’ of an employee and assess how it is affecting the workforce and productivity of that employee.

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Dr Priyanka Bansode has completed her BDS from the prestigious Nair Hospital & Dental College, Mumbai. She has also completed her Post Graduate Fellowship in Microdentistry from Government Dental College, Mumbai and a Post Graduate Dip. In Forensic Science & Related Laws from Mumbai University. Dr Priyanka has a vast and a diverse experience of 11 years in clinical dentistry and has maintained her private practice of 7 years in Pune. She is keenly involved in community oral health and has been part of various diagnostic dental camps, attended several National & State Dental conferences and is an active member of many social organisations. Dr Priyanka was awarded the ‘Swayam siddha Puraskar’ by the Lion’s Club, Pune in 2018 on the eve of International Women’s Day. She believes in creating an awareness on oral health through her blogs at [email protected] and vlogs on her YouTube channel ‘Dr Priyanka Bansode.
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