Many parts of your body may hurt after a good, long run, but having your teeth hurt after running is something you may not think is true until it happens to you.
I am not a runner. I actually don't like it at all because my ankles, knees, and hips hurt afterward. My wife, on the other hand, loves to get outside for a run. However, coming inside after a run last week, she looked at me and stated that her teeth were hurting.
I, of course, give a quizzical look back and state that it is physically impossible for the act of running to hurt your teeth…. Thus, implying (I wasn't aware of the implication!) that she was in fact, crazy.
Her question did get me thinking though, could teeth hurt after running?
So, I started jotting down some notes so I could go back to my wife and let her know that I took her "hurt after running" teeth statement seriously and found the underlying reasons for her troubles. I'm not implying anything here; these are just observations that may explain some degree of tooth sensitivity after a run.
5 Possible Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt After Running
Reason 1: Running increases blood pressure
The first possible reason your teeth hurt after running is an increase in blood pressure. Running is exercise (although I beg to differ, my wife insists this is true). Exercise should be about getting your heart rate up, which should increase your blood pressure due to increased cardiac output.
Increased blood flow at a higher pressure to all parts of the body, including teeth, can feel like they are aching. If you have an already existing issue with your teeth or gums, this increase in blood pressure may exacerbate the issue temporarily until the blood pressure returns to normal. An increase in blood pressure may also exacerbate sinus issues.
Reason 2: Running can increase sinus pressure
Sinus pressure can also cause pain in your teeth. Noted above, an increase in blood pressure can increase sinus pressure as well, leading to discomfort in your teeth. Sometimes a run outside with the extra breathing can lead to pollen exposure which doesn’t help the sinus pressure either. If you get back from a run and your nose seems clogged, some steam from a shower may help alleviate the symptoms.
Reason 3: Running can dry out your mouth
Another possible reason your teeth hurt after running relates to breathing through your mouth. When I run, I gasp for air through my mouth. I suspect that most people breathe through their mouths when they run. This does two things, first is it dries out the teeth. Dry teeth can be very sensitive, then drink some cool water afterward for a really good tooth shock!
Reason 4: Running in cold weather can cause sensitivity
The other issue is the temperature. When it's cold, you are breathing in cold air, which can cause tooth sensitivity just because it’s cold. When it’s hot, hot air will dry out the teeth faster and more complete.
Dry teeth can ache until moistened. Be careful of the temperature swings, teeth tend not to like wild fluctuations in temperature, and they will let you know about it in the form of an ache.
Reason 5: Running causes teeth clenching
The last possibility why your teeth hurt after running could be a result of clenching your mouth shut. Sometimes runners squeeze their teeth together when exerting themselves. I've seen broken teeth from weight lifters, for example. Runners, not so much, but I'm sure it is a possibility.
Possible Remedies to Keep You Running
I applaud the runners out there, staying healthy is a noble goal worthy of putting some miles on the pavement, or dirt, or on the track, wherever you choose to pursue your goal.
The essential first step is to determine the reason why your teeth hurt after running. If it's due to cold weather, try running inside. Do you find yourself clenching your teeth more while running on hard surfaces? Try a rubber track or another kind of softer surface instead.
Remember that a healthy mouth is the start of overall body health. You can’t be truly healthy unless your teeth and gums are healthy too. If you have any questions regarding teeth sensitivity and your overall oral health, don't hesitate to contact Eagle Valley Family Dentistry to schedule an in-person or virtual consultation.
And to my wife, thank you for the opportunity to retract my earlier implication.