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Running and tooth pain

Posted: June 26, 2014 10:00 a.m.
Updated: June 26, 2014 10:00 a.m.
Dr. Pedram Soleimani Dr. Pedram Soleimani
Dr. Pedram Soleimani

Athletes experience a whole different level of pain in the mouth area than what the average person feels. Runners and joggers can experience such pain in their teeth, making it impossible to perform up to their usual level. 

Sinus problems, running with poor posture and a non structured gait can cause pain to recourse to the jaw area. Pain that stems from tooth problems such as infections, large cavities and gum disease will need treatment by a dentist. 

If you suffer from jaw pain but have no obvious dental issues, making adjustments in your posture and stride can reduce pain.

The pain can vary while running from a mild sensation to extreme pain requiring medical attention. Recognizing the symptoms is important.

Other than pain be aware of these symptoms:

-  Earache

-  Congestion

-  Headache

-  Anxiety

- Puffiness around the eyes

-  Sore throat

-  Fever

-  Cough

-  Anxiety

-  Fatigue

Each of these symptoms can increase if the temperatures are extremely hot or cold weather. 

Tooth pain while running can vary from mild to extreme. The pain can appear in the beginning to be dull then increase to sharp pain shooting across the face.

The impact the body feels while running doesn't stop at the feet. The brunt that happens when the feet make strong contact with the hard surface recoil into the teeth and jaw.    

A Santa Clarita Dentist Dr. Pedram Soleimani, DDS said “Depending on the oral health of your teeth or if you have food trapped between teeth, an abscess, cracked tooth or decay, will determine the level of pain.”

Nerves of the jaw and head

While joggers put pressure on their full body when running, they also impact the nerves of the jaw. These nerves known as the facial nerves and the trigeminal nerves are what send pain signals to the jaw.    

They derive from the cervical vertebrae region and debilitate the regions of jaw muscles.

As an example, you may be a person that clenches your teeth while running or flex your jaw. Both of these can cause pain if you are not running with a steady gait. 

Inner ear problems can cause a runner to stiffen their neck and turn it to one side, causing pain to shoot in the jaw region.

It's true that having a toothache can be disabling, especially if you are preparing for a fierce race or run requiring you to be 100%. Most pain felt in the mouth and jaw area is incidental surrounding causes and not the run itself.

Tense jaw muscles cause pain

Many people clench their teeth while running without realizing it. Every person's body responds differently to the strain running places on them. If your pain is in one general area rather than one spot such as where a tooth is, chances are the pain stems from clenching of the teeth.

As with any tightened muscle, massaging the tightened area will help ease your pain. Try to remind yourself not to clench your teeth (not just while running, but at all times even at nights sleeping). Facial muscles are easy to over stretch, causing extended pain.  

If you feel that you clench your teeth, it’s recommended to be evaluated.  Aesthetic Dental and Specialty Center of Santa Clarita will evaluate and recommend a custom appliance for you as every patient case is customized for their needs.  

Temporomandibular joint disorder: The clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth on a consistent basis. This is one of the main causes of jaw pain diagnosed by dentist today.

While running always keep a check on where your pain is coming from. If it seems to be a large area such as the right bottom jaw instead of a pin pointed area, note this. Always document where the pain is and the level.  After you have stopped running pay close attention if the pain continues or if it has stopped.

Weather related pain

The weather can play a huge role in feeling pain in the mouth while running. Windy or cold weather for those with sensitivity issues will suffer from pain.  Often times runners will breathe through their mouth feeling an instant burst of pain. Cold sensitivity is often found to be the cause of pain relating to the mouth.  

It is important to learn to breathe through your nose while running. Even if you do not have a cold sensitivity, allowing cold air in while breathing will keep your mouth dry. This can cause damage to you your teeth and gums.  

Many people have sensitive teeth due to the nerves in their mouth. Avoiding treatments for whitening along with using a soft brush will help keep your teeth non sensitive. If the sensitivity to cold continues, you may want to let your dentist check for a cavity.

Circulation increases

Anytime you exercise, the heart rate increases. This means there is a lot more blood flowing throughout your mouth and jaw.  

If there are already oral health issues like gum disease or cavities, there will be an increase to the amount of pain and discomfort. 

With the increase of circulation in blood flow, you may feel an increase of throbbing or a dull ache. These are signs leading to cavities or gum disease that need to be addressed by your dentist.    

Surge of food sensitivities

Like with most athletes, it is common that runners load their systems up with carbohydrates before a big running event. Your teeth could be reacting to the sensitivities to these foods rather than the run.

If you have underlying issues with oral health such as gum disease or decaying, adding high levels of sugar content found in most carbs can inflame sensitive teeth.  

When you eat foods hot and cold and you experience pain or discomfort in the gums and teeth, it's time to see the dentist.  Aesthetic Dental and Specialty Center offers complimentary dental exam and digital x-rays for new patients.

Sinus infection

Any type of infection is going to bring along some type of pain. Sinus infections are no easy battle. The pain from a sinus infection feels like it has taken oven your entire head and face. 

Dr. Pedram Soleimani, DDS said “There is no doubt that having a sinus infection can increase the chance of having tooth pain as well. As a matter of fact, Maxillary sinusitis pain felt in the cheeks, eyes, teeth and jaw is quite common. “  

The top row of teeth is where most pain is felt which is the cause of the swelling of the palate.  Although the symptoms are similar, there are tests that determines if the pain is sinus or dental related.   

Knowing what the cause of the pain is the first step in finding relief.

Is the pain from an underlying oral health issue or something as simple as changing your breathing habits? This is the key to pain-free running.

First, take notice of how you are running. Your gait should be correct along with your posture. Pay close attention if you grind or twist your teeth while running.

Your dentist can make you a dental guard for protection from grinding. Keeping your mouth closed while running is an important thing to remember. Dry mouth is dangerous to the health of your teeth and gums. Call today for your Appointment at Aesthetic Dental and Specialty Center where we offer all of your comprehensive dental needs in one location.  

Keep all appointments with your dentist for regular checkups. It's important to have regular cleanings as well as having your dentist keep an eye out for potential cavities.

Runners with tooth pain can be miserable. Making simple changes can enhance your daily regime turning it back into the sport you love so much.

Healthy eating habits combined with wise habits while running can make your running the enjoyable time you want it to be.     


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