Diagnosed with dental dehydration from running

I was at the dentist recently, and she pointed out that my front teeth were blotchy and discoloured, then asked me if by any chance I did a lot of running. I'd never heard of this before, but apparently doing a lot of running hard and breathing through your mouth dries out your teeth and causes discolouration.

I asked her what to do about it, and she said I could try having my teeth whitened and see if it worked, but it might not as the discolouration wasn't caused by staining from food, drink and smoking. Now I'm worried I'm going to end up with a gob full of manky brown stumps!

Does anyone know anything about this and how to prevent it?

I appreciate it's not a running injury in the usual sense... image


  • A gumshield!



  • never heard of this one - fascinating

  • I agree with kittenkat. I have always breathed through my mouth when running no discolouration after 20+ years. Teeth come in a variety of colours naturally, not many of us have bright white ones without artifical help.

  • Err, this is a new one for me!!! I can't say that my teeth have suffered any ill effects of running.....and I certainly breathe through my mouth, especially when doing speedwork or any quality session.

    My easy paced long runs admitedly involve breathing just as much through the nose as the mouth.

    Obviously there may be other factors here:

    1) Pollution/smog? Where do you do your running?

    2) Are you adequately hydrated before running?

    3) What do you do when you finish your run? Drink sugary and/or caffeinated drinks? Eat sweets/biscuits? Tea and Coffee are known for staining teeth, and in an already dehydrated mouth the results might be exacerbated.

  • 23 yrs as a dentist........never seen it,. I may be showing my ignorance, but never heard of it either. Just spoken to colleague. He's never heard of it either.

  • they can't be that bad if you hadn't noticed.sounds like they are trying it on to get you to start teeth whitening 

  • I had noticed it actually. I've always had slightly discoloured teeth and having them whitened a few years ago didn't really make a great deal of difference.

    I don't think this is just a case of the dentist trying to get me to pay for whitening, as firstly she said it might not make any difference (as it wasn't due to food/tobacco/wine/coffee/staining) and secondly it's an NHS practice and they don't even offer whitening, meaning I'd be going elsewhere to get it done anyway.

    And she said it's not a case of me being adequately internally hydrated by drinking enough. It's that the teeth are used to being externally hydrated by saliva and get dried out when breathing through your mouth for extended periods.

    Mark Neeld, thanks for your input. I'm going to go back and ask her again for further explanation and tell her that a couple of other dentists I mentioned it to have never heard of it. I don't think she's simply trying to extract dosh from me, so I'd like to know what she's talking about. I assume she isn't just making it all up for her own amusement and talking utter bollocks, so I'd like to know where she got her info from...

  • might be a rare thing that she has got an interest in as she has come across it before.......and has read up on

    doesn't sound like  theres much you can do about it as I suppose it must be something that you are predisposed for........or otherwise all runners would have it

  • this paper - dehydration and decay gives some  indicators of a possible relationship between dehydration and dental decay but it is not definitive in its conclusions

  • ....and using sports drinks ( with a high sugar content) immediately after a run as a means of rehydration can dramatically increase the attrition rate on enamel as the teeth do not have their normal quota of saliva on them to dilute it - so my dentist says!!!

  • When you go back to see the dentist you might also want to mention that 40-a-day habit you have image

  • Sorry about the above.  

    More seriously, if you google "breathing thorough mouth teeth discoloration"(sic) you will find quite a lot of similar comments about teeth discolouration.  I haven't looked at any in particular, so I don't know where the source of reliable information can be found.  Maybe one of the articles might (and should!) cite a decent study.

  • Ah, so perhaps it's not all total codswallop then. I don't know if that's good or bad!

    For the record, I don't ever drink fizzy juice or any 'sports' drinks at all. When running I drink water, sometimes with nuun or High5 zero tabs on very long runs and/or hot days. And after a long run I'll usually have a pint of milk. I don't smoke but I do drink tea and the odd glass of red wine.

    My teeth look reasonably okay at the moment, I was just interested/worried when on my first visit to register at a new practice, the dentist looked in my mouth for about 10 seconds then asked me straight away if I was a runner. And no, I wasn't wearing lycra tights and trainers to give her a clue!

  • maybe they thought you looked fit image


  • .... or knackered

  • LOL @ both comments image

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