You expect to feel pain in your feet or muscles when you run but you might be wondering why do your teeth hurt when you run. If your teeth hurt when you run or exercises, there are a few underlying conditions that might be causing it. Most of the time, it’s something that can easily be treated so you can get back to enjoying your runs.
Reason #1 Infection in Your Mouth
Running causes your blood flow to increase all over your body. When blood flow is increased in an area of infection, it can cause throbbing or pulsing pain in that area. There are a few different types of infections in your mouth that can cause your teeth to hurt when you run.
Gingivitis occurs when bacteria become trapped along the gum line. This causes your gums to swell, bleed, and become more sensitive. Gingivitis is inflammation of your gums and if left untreated it’ll turn into gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of your gums and can lead to receding gums and even bone and tooth loss. Both of these problems can cause pain while running as blood flow increases in your gums.
If you have bleeding or sensitive gums you should seek the help of your dentist right away. Gingivitis and gum disease can be treated by your dentist. Gum disease can also be reversed if you catch it early before you experience tooth loss.
Food debris and bacteria can collect on your teeth in the form of plaque. Plaque releases acids which can slowly erode the hard outer layer of your tooth called the enamel. These pockets of tooth decay are called cavities.
Eventually, if you don’t treat the cavity, then the tooth decay erodes into the softer layer of your tooth called the dentin. This can lead to pockets of infection in your gums and around the root of your tooth. When you run, the increased blood flow to these pockets or abscesses will cause throbbing pain deep within your tooth.
The pain of inflammation is exacerbated with increased blood flow. Therefore, you can have pain in your mouth from other sources of infection such as a salivary gland infection. It’s best to seek the help of your dentist to narrow down the source of your infection so they can come up with a treatment plan.
Prevent Problems in Your Mouth
Running can be painful as it is. You can avoid your teeth hurting when you run by simply taking care of your teeth and gums. Make sure you practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing daily.
A vital part of good oral hygiene is making sure you see the dentist every 6 months. Your dentist will remove plaque and tartar before it has a chance to erode through your enamel and cause tooth decay. Your dentist can also take care of small cavities before they eat through to your dentin layer. Good oral hygiene can also prevent gum disease and other infections in your mouth.
Reason #2 Cold Sensitivity
Sometimes, your teeth can be sensitive to cold or heat when you don’t have an infection or cavity. This can be due to microscopic cracks in your teeth or other weak spots in your enamel. When you run, you breath through your mouth and as you suck in cold air it can cause sharp pain in your teeth as it hits these weak spots.
You can try to breath in and out through your nose to avoid the shooting pain in your sensitive teeth. You can also try to reduce your tooth sensitivity by using special toothpaste that’s designed for sensitive teeth.
Reason #3 Clenching Your Jaw
Many people clench their jaw when they are doing an intense activity. This is commonly known as bruxism. As your foot hits the ground with each stride, the impact travels up your spine to your jaw. If your jaw is clenched then this impact will cause bigger problems over time.
If you find yourself gritting your teeth when you run, make a conscious effort to open your mouth and relax your jaw while running. You can also wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth if you grind them. Also, make sure you periodically replace your running shoes to ensure your soles aren’t worn out and can absorb the impact.
Reason #4 Sinus Infection
There are a few teeth in your upper jaw that are connected directly to your sinuses. If you have a sinus infection, then this can be why your teeth hurt when you run. The increased blood flow can also cause your sinuses to throb.
Fortunately for you, most of the time sinus infections will resolve on their own within a few weeks. If you isolate the pain to your sinuses and know for sure that the cause of your pain is a sinus infection, just keep an eye on it. If it gets worse or doesn’t resolve within a couple of weeks then go see your primary care doctor because you might need antibiotics.
Reason #5 Ear Infection
Ear infections are less common in adults but can still happen. If you’ve had a cold recently or if your pain is accompanied by a fever then you should see your doctor. An ear infection can cause pain to radiate from your ear through your jaw. It’s easy to misdiagnose this pain as coming from your teeth and mouth.
An ear infection will start to clear up within just 24 hours of starting antibiotics. The faster you see your doctor, the sooner you can get back to running without pain.
Reason #6 Bad Posture
Interestingly, pain in your mouth can be related to poor posture. When you slouch over, your body tries to realign your head by putting extra strain on the muscles in your neck and face. Research is starting to show that bad posture can exacerbate or even be a cause of TMJ.
TMJ causes pain in your jaw and the pain becomes worse when you run. If you have TMJ, try to retrain your muscles with better posture. If you’re having a hard time, there are special braces you can wear to keep your muscles in good alignment.
What Should I Do?
You don’t have to live with pain while you exercise. Any time you are having pain in your mouth you should call your dentist. Your dentist will be able to assess your pain and figure out the cause of it. It’s especially important to treat the issue right away if the pain is coming from a mouth infection or tooth decay.
Gum disease and tooth decay only gets worse and will lead to bigger problems. It’s much easier and cheaper to fill cavities before they need a root canal or treat gum disease before your teeth fall out. If your dentist can’t fix the issue then they’ll at least be able to recommend someone else who can take care of it for you.