Do you love running but can’t stand the mysterious pain you get in your teeth when you’re running? I know it sounds CRAZY and even a little weird, but tooth pain is actually a common occurrence for even the most avid runner. When I was first asked about this on Instagram, I googled it since I have never experienced it, and I was shocked to read how many people suffer from tooth pain during runs. So naturally I had to get to the bottom of it. Running is an amazing form of exercise (my #1 favorite), but it does come with the risk of different kinds of pain and injuries. These different types of pain can include sore joints, muscle fatigue, shin splints, blisters, sprains, stomach aches, tendinitis, and yep, even ear pain and TOOTH PAIN.
When your teeth hurt while running, it can range from a very sharp pain, mild discomfort, dull annoyance, or just a barely-there type of deal. The altitude, the temperature while on your run, or the surface you are passing through are all contributing factors. No matter the level of pain, you still want to avoid it I bet! And that’s why you’re reading this post. If you want to know the causes of tooth pain while running, and how to prevent it, keep reading!
Why Do My Teeth Hurt While I Run?
Cold Air Inhalation
If you are breathing with your mouth open while on an outdoor run during the winter months, the cold air might be the reason why your teeth hurt. Try breathing more through your nose when walking or running in cold temperatures.
Blood Flow Fluctuations
Sometimes, your blood flow increases while running. And increased blood flow is linked to tooth pain. When your heart rate goes up, so does your circulation. Leading to elevated levels of blood flow into your gums and jaw. This can cause a throbbing sensation or a dull ache if you already have a cavity or infection in your teeth. Hey, maybe it’s a good reminder to stay current on your dental cleanings!
Relaxing the jaw when running is just as important as breathing properly. If you don’t let your jaw muscles loosen while walking or running, you’ll eventually start feeling pain in your teeth and even your entire mouth. A tense jaw can also lead to headaches.
If you are a grinder, tooth pain while running should be no surprise. Clenching and grinding your teeth on a run will cause a jarring sensation all over your teeth and mouth and, over time, that can lead to sharp pain. Again, relax your jaw. And check with your dentist about getting a mouth guard at night!
Clogged sinuses mean that your airway is blocked with fluid. Congestion in the sinus area causes pressure in the face and mouth area because sinuses are so close to your teeth. This feeling of discomfort is not always based on weather. You may experience this kind of pain both in hot and cold temperatures. So, if you have a sinus infection, it’s likely your teeth may hurt when you run. Running causes a jarring motion and it can exacerbate your symptoms.
What To Do with Tooth Pain when Running:
Make sure your running shoes are in good condition.
If your shoes are too worn out, the jarring sensation is amplified. This will result in tooth pain! The vibrations from the run, paired with a tense jaw or cavity, can create sharp pain in your teeth. And if you’re looking to upgrade your current running shoes and you’re unsure which ones would be best for you, see this list of my favorite running shoes. And be sure to follow these tips to help them last longer.
Beware of the colder temperatures.
The cold air that comes with a winter morning run can exacerbate tooth pain. You may want to avoid cold running if you suffer from toothaches while running. However, if you just need a run in the cold (I get it!), try to breathe through your nose. This will help minimize the pain.
If you’re wondering what to wear in the cold, I put together a list of what I like to wear in every temperature from 40 degrees and colder. You can check it out here.
Avoid running on unsteady surfaces.
Of course, there is is a higher risk associated with stumbling and falling when you run on unsteady surfaces. (I’ve fallen a few times myself in the last year!) But walking or running on rough or uneven surfaces can increase the way your teeth hurt. This is caused by that jarring sensation that I mentioned earlier vs. a smoother, more cushioned surface like a treadmill. If you really struggle with tooth pain, avoid running on uneven gravel, stone paths, steep downhills or stairs. All of those can increase your tooth pain.
Drink water often while on a run.
Drinking water can help relieve tooth pain. Make sure to take a minute to swish the water around your oral cavities to stop the ache. This is not a long-term solution, but it’s worth a shot while on the run!
Don’t run if you have a cold or sinus infection.
Inflamed sinuses can make your teeth hurt. If you know you are prone to tooth pain while running, avoid this type of exercise when you have a cold or feel under the weather.
Do you deal with tooth pain while you’re running?
Okay, now you know why you may be experiencing tooth pain while running and how to deal with it. But, remember, you should always talk with your professional healthcare provider if your teeth hurt too often or too much, as it might indicate something more serious. It could also mean you need to pay your dentist a visit which may be long overdue. Take care, runners!
My Favorite Running Gear