We all know that regular exercise is super important for the health of our bodies, but did you know, your fitness routine be having a negative impact on your teeth, gums and jaw?
It’s a little known fact that strenuous exercise and teeth do not go together well, especially when it comes to activities like weightlifting. Jaw-clenching or teeth-grinding are often a side effect of high-intensity exercise – it is the natural response to lifting up a heavy weight – and these can lead to fractures and chips in natural teeth as well as veneers, crowns and implants. Over time, excess stress on the jaw muscles can also cause pain and headaches. All symptoms similar o night time bruxism, which we have discussed in previous blog posts.
The science bit
Many weightlifters use their chest as a brace and/or stopping point when they lift. Air gets trapped in their lungs when they pause and their throat is partially closed when they exhale. Simultaneously, they clench their jaws hard when doing this, which forces the top of the lower jaw up and back, causing the disc within the joint to be pushed forward. At first, it may be barely noticeable as it is only slight pain and or clicking noise. After a while though, this will turn into irreversible damage done to the disc.
Over time, this clenching and grinding will alter your occlusion (bite), eventually spiralling into a TMJ disorder (temporomandibular joint disorder – causes pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement). Alternatively, there may have been an underlying disorder present, and then daytime clenching and nighttime bruxism will exacerbate the condition. Common symptoms that may follow include headaches, facial pain, ear pain, tinnitus, eye pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, dizziness/vertigo, and photophobia among other things.
Because so many athletes suffer from this, it is common that they will wear a protective mouthguard during their workouts. This protects their teeth and enamel if they are clenching down. If they DO have an underlying TMJ disorder already, this mouthguard will NOT “cure” their nighttime bruxism. That would be a different strenuous exercise and teeth issue and will need to be addressed separately with a visit to their dentist to prescribe a night guard such as the F.O.S. solution.