Good for Body, Bad for Teeth? What to Know About Working Out and Oral Health

Published on July 25, 2017 | Dental Tips

It’s no secret that regular exercise has countless physical and mental benefits. But what should be a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be a painful undertaking when you have mouth problems during your workout regimen.

If you maintain an active lifestyle, you might unknowingly put your teeth in harm’s way. In fact, if you’re active, you’re more likely to suffer from tooth erosion and dental caries. And the more active you are, the higher your chances of teeth issues.

There are many reasons why your workout routine could have negative implications on your mouth. From sugary sports drinks to changes in saliva, here are some of the reasons your teeth might be bothering you during your workout routine.

Why Do My Teeth and Gums Hurt When I Run?

Whether it’s a dull ache or intensely sharp pains in your mouth when you run, a few factors could be contributing to the cause:

You’re wearing the wrong shoes

Perhaps the most straightforward answer lies in your feet. If you’re wearing the wrong running shoes, there could be an intense impact between your foot and the ground with every stride. That impact sends force and pressure through your body and up to your mouth.

How to fix it: Go to a running store where they can analyze your gait and fit you with a pair of supportive sneakers specific to your stride and foot.

Sinus infection

Sinus infections have been known to cause tooth aches, pain and soreness in the mouth. That’s because the upper jaw and sinus cavities are so close to one another. The infection in the sinus can also affect the nerves that are close to your teeth.

How to fix it: The best way to alleviate this sort of tooth pain is to eliminate the cause. Give yourself time to recover from the infection, and then you can hit the ground running.

Cavity or infection

Pounding the pavement could intensify the pain caused by a developing cavity or infection. The vibrations from your feet hitting the ground paired with an increase in blood pressure due to the cardiovascular activity can emphasize the pain.

How to fix it: If you think you have a cavity or infection, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Learn how to deal with a toothache in the meantime.

Best High-Energy Foods for Your Teeth

Protein-rich foods, runner’s goos and supplements provide much-needed energy, but they also give your teeth unwelcome exposure to sticky, sugary substances that can wreak havoc on your teeth.

Even sugar-free variations aren’t always ideal. Natural sugars promote bacteria, which releases acid that can cause tooth decay.

Look for ingredients like xylitol, erythritol and other sugar alcohols, as they might provide benefits for your teeth.

You could also make your own protein bars and snacks with natural ingredients. Remember to minimize the amount of acid-rich fruits, and be careful when chewing on hard nuts.

Beverages Harm Teeth More Than Help

Sports drinks that give you the extra energy you need to get through your workout are often filled with harmful sugars and artificial sweeteners, which have a whole list of negative implications for your mouth.

And it’s not just the sugar that’s causing problems. The drinks themselves are acidic, potentially corroding teeth all the way down to the dentin.

Instead of sugary, acidic sports drinks, opt for water. You’ll eliminate a cause of tooth erosion, and water has a lot of benefits for oral health and can fight tooth decay.

Clenching Teeth

Many people clench or grind their teeth during exercise, without even realizing it. Another thing you may not realize is that this movement of the jaw might contribute to your athletic performance in a good way.

Golfers in particular have better posture and muscular strength if they clench their jaw.

But, as is the common theme, what’s good for your workout isn’t necessarily in the best interest of your teeth.

This grinding action can wear down the enamel, cause jaw pain and headaches, and lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).

Are you a nighttime tooth grinder? Here’s how to tell >

No Mouth Guard

The importance of a mouth guard significantly increases in contact sports. If your workout routine consists of yoga, a mouth guard’s probably overkill. But if you’re doing something more physical, like basketball, then you might want to consider getting one.

Mouth guards can prevent dental emergencies that happen during sports. A knocked-out or chipped tooth would be a rough way to end an energizing workout.

9 ways you can crack your tooth and how you can avoid it >

Breathing Through Your Mouth

No matter how physically fit, if you’re undergoing a strenuous exercise routine you’ll probably find yourself huffing and puffing through your mouth at some point.

But when you breathe air in, you’re also inhaling bacteria in the air. Your nose is a filter which blocks particles, adds moisture, and warms up the air before it enters your body. When you breathe through your mouth, you lose these effects.

It’s unlikely that breathing through your mouth occasionally during exercise will cause any serious issues. But if it becomes a habit, you could develop a case of dry mouth.

Dry mouth, when untreated, increases your chances of developing tooth decay, because your saliva no longer rinses your mouth of bacteria and food particles.

But that’s not the only potential downside to mouth breathing. If you have a cavity, that cold air penetrates the tooth in an extremely sensitive area that isn’t normally exposed. This can cause pain and soreness with every inhale.

Salty Sweat on Your Lips

If your workout routine is a sweat-inducing one, you’re no stranger to the salty taste on your upper lip. And though the salt might leave your lips feeling chapped, it’s not as harmful as you might think.

Sweat contains natural antibiotics that kill bacteria. But if you leave the dried sweat on your lips and skin for too long, it can promote the growth of new bacteria, leave a rash, or lead to infection.

Moral of the story? Wash your face after you exercise.

If your teeth persistently hurt during your workout routine, schedule an appointment with your dentist now >

Brought to you by Access Dental. Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. You should always consult a licensed professional when making decisions concerning dental care. #2017-42611 (exp. 6/19).

Footer Content

We are dedicated to giving each of our patients the healthy smile they deserve!

MORE Call Offers