6 Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt After Running

Written By: Jeremy N

Contrary to popular belief, tooth pain while exercising is not uncommon. It has been an enigma for many runners for years. However, it’s no longer a mystery.

Dentists now have a clue on why this might be happening to you. Here are the six main reasons why your teeth hurt after running. 

6 Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt After Running

1. Cavities or Infection

Cavities or tooth decay are very common dental conditions that often cause pain or discomfort, especially when running. Cavities are permanently damaged areas in your teeth, usually caused by several factors, the most important of which are genetics, bacteria, and oral hygiene.

Bacteria also causes gingivitis, which translates to infection of the gums. Both conditions present with pain or sensitivity with cold or hot drinks or with cold weather, as the decayed tooth can’t properly protect the nerve.

However, with running, the mechanism is a bit different. While exercising, your heart pumps blood more rapidly and efficiently, increasing the blood flow to all body parts, including your jaw.

Increased blood flow might worsen inflammation in your teeth or gums, by bringing more white blood cells to the region. Moreover, dry mouth, caused by breathing through your mouth while running, exacerbates caries, and decay.

What you can do about this is to be mindful while running and make sure you always breathe through your nose.

Nevertheless, the solution is naturally to solve the main problem, by doing the following:

  • Paying your dentist a visit.
  • Getting your caries filled.
  • Maintaining appropriate dental hygiene.
Colgate Peroxyl Antiseptic Mouthwash and Mouth Sore Rinse, 1.5% Hydrogen Peroxide, Mild Mint - 500ml, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
  • Mouth rinses cleanses and promotes healing of minor oral wounds
  • Helps promote healing of: oral sores, irritations, mouth burns
  • Oxygenating action removes oral debris to facilitate healing
  • Soothes minor gum inflammation from dental procedures, dentures and orthodontic appliances
  • Antiseptic mouthwash, alcohol free formula

2. Bruxism

Bruxism is another name for jaw-clenching or teeth-gritting. It’s much more common than you think. 1 in every 3 adults has bruxism, most without realizing that they do. It’s mostly caused by stress, but can also be caused by a condition called TMJ disorder.

Oftentimes while running or doing strenuous exercise, we tend to grit our teeth unconsciously.

Also, breathing through your mouth with the teeth slightly apart might lead to forceful closure on any impact, especially if it’s an uphill run.

Striking your foot on the ground sends shock waves and reverberations back to your whole body, including your jaw. On long runs, such as half or full marathons, this is bound to happen easily causing pain in our jaws or gums.

Further, some people grind their teeth at night while sleeping. This might be evident in early morning runs in which you wake up with pain that continues and increases throughout your run.

For this problem, a nightguard can help alleviate the discomfort.

However, if it’s only while running, you can try the following: 

  • Choose a good terrain.
  • Put-on good quality shoes that can decrease the impact.
  • Try to keep your mouth loose.
  • Keep your jaw muscles relaxed.
  • You can also buy a mouth guard, to help ease the pressure on your teeth.

3. Sinusitis

Sometimes teeth or gingival pain has nothing to do with your teeth, gingiva, or mouth. It could be referred pain. It’s when your brain confuses signals from other organs to that of your teeth. It could be resulting from your ear, throat, or sinuses.

Sinusitis is another prevalent condition causing teeth, nose, and overall facial pain. Sinusitis is the medical term for sinus infection, which is the inflammation of the airspaces around your nose and mouth.

With allergens and pollutants all around us, it’s more widespread than ever.

The Maxillary sinus is the largest sinus cavity. It’s situated around your nose and the roots of the upper teeth protrude into it. If infected or inflamed, mucus builds up leading to irritation of nerve fibers entering the roots of your teeth. 

With impaction on running, this nerve irritation is felt as a sharp pain in your teeth. If this happens to you, consider seeking medical attention from an otolaryngologist.

 However, for immediate relief, take a break and drink some water. Also, try rubbing your face gently. It might work for some temporary relief.

4. Cold Sensitivity

Cold sensitivity is a condition that can result from cavities, grinding teeth, or even brushing your teeth too hard or too frequently. It’s quite a common one at that. It presents with pain in response to cold temperatures, including cold air.

A way to overcome this is by breathing in through your nose, which acts as a humidifier for the air. Also, make sure you check with your dentist for the underlying cause of this sensitivity.

5. Trauma

Unnoticed trauma isn’t all that common. It often presents immediately with pain or bleeding, so it’s hardly ever disregarded.

Albeit unusual, it happens that tooth injury is first detected during an exercise. Sometimes, the injury happens during the run, after falling or tripping.

This is usually due to the same mechanism of impaction that travels back to the teeth as well as increased blood circulation and flow. Noting a tooth injury should be an emergency, requiring paying a rapid visit to the dentist.

6. Poor Posture

This might seem like an unlikely cause. After all, what does my poor posture have to do with my teeth?

-You Might Like - How to Improve Your Running Form in 3 Steps

My answer to you is your posture has to do with everything!

If you’ve exhausted all your options looking for a cause of your tooth pain, consider checking your alignment and posture during your run. This might act up in two mechanisms.

The first one is exacerbating TMJ syndrome causing teeth-gritting and pain. If the head isn’t well supported by the body, jaw muscles tend to do the lifting, which in turn causes lockjaw and nerve compression.

Another mechanism is leaning towards one side of the body while running causing a stronger impact on the other side. This can exacerbate the normal pressure on your teeth, creating pain and discomfort.

Why my Gums throbbing after running?

We increase blood flow throughout the body when we run or perform other activities. If the higher blood flow exacerbates an existing problem, it might cause inflammation in our teeth or gums. Teeth-grinding or jaw clenching can also be a source of discomfort.


Tooth pain is always a nuisance, especially during a run or any kind of strenuous activity. Knowing the root of the problem is the first step towards fixing it.

 Pay your dentist a visit. 


Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Jeremy. 

I have run over 250 races including the California International Marathon, Clarksburg Country Run, and various other 5K & 10K races throughout the United States. I am a former Athletics department employee at University of the Pacific and Shoe Consultant with Dicks Sporting Goods

Become a Train For a 5K Insider