T Nation

Your Teeth and Your Health


Indulge me a bit on a somewhat different sort of topic for the forums. I had a dentist appointment this morning, got the teeth all nice and sparkly along with a pat on the head for being such a good boy in keeping my choppers in nice shape. Two random things though that I am hoping someone on here (maybe with some dental experience) could enlighten me on:

1) Tooth wear. Apparently I am a grinder (likely stress induced) and my dentist had one of those NTI bite guards set up for me to wear when I sleep. I have been very remiss in doing so and he gave me the speech about how bad things could be in 15 years or so. Just curious about how much truth there is to this. Also, and this is going to sound odd, but can you develop a lot of tooth wear from lifting? I never thought much about it but I might be clenching my teeth hard during big lifts at times.

2) Flossing. I am a regular flosser, but there was a sign up on the wall of the office with a quote from Dr. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic saying, to the effect, that regular flossing and plaque control can add 10 years to your life. Now, while I always wonder where they pull such figures from, to me it seemed to make a fair amount of sense. I shudder to think what kind of stuff develops in between your teeth over time if not cleared out and the overall effects on your health. Just curious about some of the ill effects associated with not being as diligent as need be in oral health.

Anyhoo, I found all of this fairly interesting and was curious if anyone had any kinds of answers on all of this. I think it's funny that we can all spend an inordinate amount of time working over every minute detail of training and diet, but then overlook the more importants things all too often.



I grind my teeth also. My dentist showed me the wear I was causing and how I would eventually smooth out my teeth if I didn't cause any major cracks to form. Cracks are bad since they can increase the chance of cavities not to mention weaken the teeth.

I actually broke my hard plastic mouth piece and then ground through the soft one they made for me. Thankfully, I have dental insurance.

For lifting, I clench my teeth while lifting. So, for ME type stuff, I use a sports mouth piece. It helps a lot and it is only 95 cents to replace.

I have gone to using a regular sports guard when I sleep. Check with your dentist or hygenist to make sure this is ok. Some grinders shouldn't use those but mine gave me a thumbs up.

As for the regular flossing increasing your life, I read somewhere that plaque can get into the blood stream and then mess with your heart. Of course, they aren't calling it plaque anymore (I'm dating a dental hygenist and she clues me in on this stuff. Actually, she corrects me).

Hope that helps.


Yes, some lifters do grind their teeth from clenching while lifting. The overall tooth wear from grinding depends on how severe your case is. Everyone is different. He would be able to tell how much this can affect you by noting the wear on your teeth already. Many people grind their teeth at night without even knowing. Often this can be attributed to stress as many medical, dental and vet school students end up grinding their teeth over the years of schooling.

Many of the bacteria found orally can end up in the plaques that occlude blood vessels. Also, oral health is often directly related to overall digestive health as you get older. People are keeping their original teeth longer whereas 50 years ago, 30 year olds were often being fitted with dentures on a regular basis.


So if I found myself grinding my teeth during lifts, would you recommend some kind of mouthguard? Since my teeth are overall in very good shape (healthy gums, all of my wisdom teeth in with no issues), I want to be sure to care for them properly.

Interesting thoughts on that bacteria ending up as the plaque in blood vessels. I never much thought of it in that regard, but will obviously stay in mind now.


I sometimes wonder if people who floss just tend to be the kind of people who are going to take better care of themselves on the whole.

That's my half thought-through, uninformed thought anyway.


Interesting theory and I think I agree. I mean, if you think about those kinds of things that people know they are supposed to do, but avoid like the plague, flossing always seems rather high. If you are committed enough to floss, I think there is probably an increased chance that you are committed to doing a lot of other healthy things.


Interesting topic Kuz. Thanks for bringing it up. As I recently found out I have been grinding my teeth at night (my "bedmate" told me it wakes her up sometimes). I think it has only recently begun in the past few weeks.

I have been having severe jaw soreness and pain for a few weeks and it seems to coincide with what she told me about grinding my teeth at night. Not only that, but I clench my teeth hard when lifting and tend to have sore teeth a few hours after lifting (last night was one of those nights).

So I am going to invest in a mouthguard for lifting, and when I visit the dentist next month, I'm going to ask about a mouthguard while I sleep. As I want to keep my perfect teeth in perfect shape for the rest of my life.


If you need more motivation to floss, in addition to keeping your teeth and improved general health you can search on PubMed for flossing, insulin. You'll find studies suggesting that regular flossing improves insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients. I don't believe that it is a big leap to suggest the similar effects would be found in healthy individuals. I'm sure it is only a matter of time before you hear about the flossing diet :slight_smile:

By the way, I took Dan John's advice on making this easier. I'm much more likely to floss when we have "flossies"
in the house.

old dogg


That would depend on the amount of wear or damage you are causing. That is the question you should be asking your dentist.


Who are all those sissies in tights in your avatar? :wink:


I would say the bite plate would definitly be a good idea... Obviously, it will prevent grinding your actual teeth, as in a few weeks you will begin to create grooves in the plate due to your teeth wearing that away, instead of your toofeses. Also, when you wear the bite plate, it seperates your teeth. Even though they're seperated just a little bit, they little bit gives a lot less leverage to clamp down. The jaw can produce alot of clamping pressure, open it up even a little bit (with a bite plate) and the clamping force will decrease significantly. Less clamping force means less pressure of grinding of the teeth equals less wear on your teeth.


Are "flossies" those little pieces of floss on a plastic fork thingy? Are they as effective as regular floss, because I sure enjoy them more.


I want to keep my tooth perfect too.

--A native of Kentucky


Shall do. He works out in my gym, so that's an easy one. Thank you kindly.


If you are grinding you teeth at night etc then a guard/plate will only provide protection for your teeth but will not solve the problem and in fact may even add to he problem.

Read up on TMJ dysfunction and how it may relate to you. You may be surprised at the results you will get from some simple therapy.

To give you an example I had one patient who had suffered from severe hip pain and dysfunction for over 7 years and had been to many specialists ? to cut a long story short after a single treatment for the TMJ she was cured (we still followed up for other things and to maintain the work done).


TMJ dysfunction isn't quite that easy to repair. Often, in cases where surgery is used in an attempt to correct the problem as far as an actual joint issue, the problem can end up being worse than before. That is why mouthguards are usually the first action in dealing with the issue.