Skip to main content

Is your job bad for your teeth?

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.


Did you know that dehydration leads to bad breath, tooth decay and even gum disease? With up to 80% of American workers estimated to work 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 labor, 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, military


A number of occupations have a higher-than-average ratio of smokers to nonsmokers. Whether your workplace offers additional breaks to smokers or you and your colleagues find a quick smoke 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, retail

Dental injuries

Whether from a fall, a 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 (TMJ).

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


Like tobacco, alcohol is linked to oral cancer, tooth decay and gum disease — and 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, a number of industries are linked to high alcohol consumption and alcoholism.

Industries at risk: Mining, construction, hotels and restaurants, arts and entertainment, bartending, music, gardening, 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 (TMJ). In a surprising twist, working in dentistry actually poses a higher risk for bruxism and TMJ than most industries — and the high-tech sector is similarly dangerous.

Industries at risk: Technology, dentistry, agriculture, construction

Maintaining oral health

If you’re looking to improve your oral health, 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
  • Visit the dentist for regular exams and cleanings

Last updated January 14, 2022

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.