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March 26, 2016

I just got back from a trail run and my teeth hurt like crazy. I just started running again after a 3 year break; left the military, got married, had a baby (well, my wife did), etc... Life got in the way. I thought this was really strange and Google came to the rescue.

mymedic-teeth-hurt

Tooth pain can be debilitating, particularly when you're already struggling with an intense run. It may seem strange, but running can affect your teeth, though it's usually factors incidental to the run rather than the run itself that causes the pain. In some cases, it's mere coincidence that your teeth begin hurting when you're running, so if the pain continues after your run or is very intense, call a dentist.

One of the areas MyMedic focuses on is preventative medicine; like when you change the oil in your car to prevent engine damage. The article below can be helpful in identifying a small problem that could turn into a life threatening one if not treated.

Luckily in my case it has to do with sinus problems. 

If you are an avid runner, you’ve likely experienced some physical side effects—muscle cramps, pulled tendons or perhaps mild foot and ankle sprains. But is excruciating teeth pain also an unwanted symptom you’ve been enduring? Do you find that the effects are even worse now that the summer heat and humidity are in full swing? This week, we explore why tooth pain sometimes occurs while running and how best to address it.

What tooth pain while running feels like

Some people experience pain in their teeth while running. It may range from mild, dull aching to sharp, searing sensations of pain. Runners may also experience pain around the jaw and ears, accompanied by swelling around the eyes, with cough, congestion and fever. Hot weather may intensify the symptoms.

mymedic-first-aid-kit

What Does The Expert Say?

According to MyMedic Expert and professional skier, snowboarder and surfer, Dr. Mike Meru D.D.S. M.S. is an avid runner when he's training for adventure. Here is what he has to say:

Increased Circulation

As you run, your heart rate increases and your circulation improves. This means there's more blood flowing into your gums and the surrounding areas. If you already have an oral health problem such as a cavity or gum disease, this increased circulation may cause an increase in throbbing or general sensitivity. If you feel a throbbing sensation or a dull ache in your mouth, it's likely that you have a cavity or gum disease.

Not so Good Vibrations

As your feet strike the ground, the vibrating impact is affecting an underlying condition in your oral cavity. On the minor side, you may have food trapped in your teeth. But this pain could be a sign of something more serious. You may have a cavity, an abscessed tooth, a cracked tooth, or serious decay.

Tense Jaw Muscles

The body responds to the strain of running in a variety of ways, and some people clench their jaws when they run. If the pain is generalized, rather than concentrated in a specific spot, it could be a sign of a tense jaw. Massage can help, but it's also important to focus on keeping all of your muscles loose as you run. If you regularly clench your jaw or grind your teeth, you could have a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder that causes chronic jaw pain. Monitor yourself for symptoms when you're not running, and call your dentist if they continue.

The Grinding Factor

Most of us don’t realize we grind our teeth because it usually happens at night while sleeping. But did you know that many of us grind our teeth while exercising, too? As we hunker down and push ourselves to run up that steep hill or speed up a little faster, we clench our teeth. That can also be contributing to tooth pain while running.

Bruxism (clenching and grinding): most common cause is stress.

Solution: if it is at night only, get a night-guard (not all night guards are hard plastic anymore - Under Armour even makes one). If it is during your activity, a mouth guard can help relieve the stress put on the teeth. Or just consciously stop clenching.

Sinusitis as a factor

Sinusitis is a condition wherein one experiences an inflammation of the sinus cavities. It can sometimes cause mucous to plug up the nostrils. This condition has also been known to cause tooth pain while running.

Immediate Relief

Stop running immediately and take a drink of water. Swish the water around the oral cavity to loosen any food particles stuck between the teeth.

If this fails to provide relief, try gently rubbing the muscles in your jaw and face with your fingertips.

When you get home, look closely in the mirror to see if you can visually identify the tooth or area that is causing pain. Next, apply a topical over-the-counter oral anesthetic to the area. This can help numb the area, providing pain relief.

Crest Sensi-Strips are the best and quickest solution but Sensodyne toothpaste works great; it takes longer but it's effective.

What the Pain is telling you

It’s time to visit your dentist. In fact, if you’re experiencing pain in your teeth while running, there’s a good chance that you’re long overdue with routine checkups. Your dentist will perform a thorough check up and determine if any hidden infection, abscess or dental cavity is the underlying cause of your pain.

For future runs, practice breathing techniques. Try to develop awareness about your teeth when exercising. Is your mouth slightly apart? Is your jaw clenched shut? Consider wearing an exercise appliance if teeth clenching is occurring while running.

References

National Dental Centre: Pulpitis
Delta Dental: Sensitive Teeth -- Do Hot and Cold Bother You?
Metro Dentalcare: Self-Care Program for TMJ & Jaw Pain
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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