Teeth - not the ones on the cassette


Cannon Fodder
Hi all - I have had some interesting news from the dentist. It turns out I have ground two back teeth significantly. I ride a few enduros each year and seems that just "gritting your teeth" to get through is having an adverse effect. Has anyone else had experience with this sort of problem?


Likes Dirt
Probably more than riding a few enduros. Most grinders tend to do it at night while asleep. Do you wake up with a sore jaw? Did the dentist discuss a splint?


Likes Bikes and Dirt
Acid erosion? Most of the sports drinks are highly acidic and dissolve enamel .

The only drink with a good pH is Sukkie.


Cannon Fodder
Hi all - thanks so far.

The link is definitely the bike, as the breaks occur while cycling. (I spat out some interesting fragments on Duffy Descent at Stromlo last week in fact!) Dentist had quite a few questions about hours spent on the bike, and I am about to get a splint to wear while cycling (but not necessarily for sleeping).

The problem is only two back teeth, which would rule out acid from drinks. In any case, I don't use 'em a lot - really only two Staminades each week.

I think it is about biting hard while I am travelling through the rock gardens and descents, and hooking in on the climbs. I bought a cyclocross earlier this year, and the problems seem to have emerged with the absence of suspension. I'll be interested to see what difference the splint makes.


Like an orange
Yes! Something I can comment on!

i'm only a second year student, and your dentist is obviously a practicing professional, but i thought i might chip in anyway

acid erosion is most likely on back teeth, followed by the posteriors of your incisors if you're bulaemic.

as far as your bruxism goes (the grinding) to develop those problems only through riding you'd definitely know about it from the involved muscular pain required to deliver said force over a short time. That, or those rock gardens would leave a lot more bruising on the rest of your body too!

as a general rule, grinding and the damage it induces happens in your sleep. And when i say general, there are exceptions to every rule but it is hugely unlikely this is an example of one.

wearing a splint while riding could be fairly impractical purely for the airflow obstruction, a well made mouth guard would be a better option ( but that is really splitting hairs)

the big thing that splints do is change the proprioception of the jaw muscles slightly of a night time. they produce a surface contact that is different to the learnt, rhythmical grinding pattern which in theory causes the person to break out of the pattern before it begins. it isn't really the mechanical barrier that is doing the most good, it is the varied environment and break of normal occlusion (bite pattern) that is thought to help as well.
and for that reason it'd be better to wear it at night as well.


it is one week until my 2nd year dent exams start....


Likes Dirt
I (was?) grind during sleep and forked out about $600 for the splint. It is annoying to wear, but I think it has done what clockworked has said. I don't think I am doing it anymore while I sleep, except when I am awake I constantly try to push it off with my tongue - it is pretty tight and annoying.

I think if it is well made you wont have much air flow problem while riding, but it may be distracting.

When riding I stick my tongue between my teeth. I haven't bitten it yet, but it could be a habit you want to develop - you can't grind your teeth if your tongue is there. You just look ridiculous in photos. Or you could chew gum - you'd be doing something with your jaw muscles, but not overdoing it.


Grinding teeth is sometimes caused because of some trauma or stress. I started doing it after my bad labour and stressful newborn phase. I was also doing it awake. It sounds like your teeth grinding is from the stress/excitement of racing? I went to a psychologist to sort out my anxiety and it helped with a lot of other stuff too. Perhaps you could look at relaxation techniques for riding and racing?
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Cannon Fodder
Thanks all, this is an interesting discussion.

I have tried to look at this from the point of variables/constants. I have been on the bike for about 10 years, riding 8-10 hours a week fairly consistently with some bigger loads around 3-4 enduro races each year. Teeth are generally good, but (thanks clockwork) I hadn't considered the sports drink angle as I didn't think I was consuming enough to be an issue.

The biggest change can see is the cyclo-cross bike - a rigid frame and hitting the track hard. In the past four months I can track the changes to my upper body development (arms and chest) as shirts don't fit the way they used to! Weight has gone up 3kg, but waist measurements dropped 5cm - the weight is on shoulders, arms and chest as I work to shock-absorb the terrain.

I am conscious that I am grinding now while riding. Dentist thinks the pain is all my own work (!) and in the latest (urgent) treatment she considered there was a dislocation of the jaw. Thanks again clockwork - I am getting a Manhattan splint, and to the untrained eye it just looks like a Rolls Royce mouth guard.

I had a roadie pal tell me quite casually that Tyler Hamilton ground more than half his teeth during the TDF in 2003 - and that I should just harden up! Thanks for that!!
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Like an orange
no worries!

with the sports drinks - it sounds really dumb, but if you can get in the habit of swishing water around your mouth afterwards to wash it out you'll be doing your teeth a big favour. its having the acid sit around on the tooth surface that really does it in.

you must be going hard on the race-face mungo chew (technical, inside term) to work yourself into this condition! good work!


Likes Bikes and Dirt
I thought you'd graduated Clock, no idea you were a 2nd year! How'd your exams go?

Cole, the forces you impose on your teeth when you clench + grind of a night is incomparably more than what you're capable of doing when conscious. I'd be surprised if the damage was solely cycling imposed. Rather, my belief is that the damage is being done of a night. A split will help in this regard, likewise a mouthguard. If you can't sleep with something in your mouth (like me), you can also get regular buildups. It's could potentially be quite pricey for a member of the public though, not sure what most dentists would charge for a situation such as yours.

To elaborate from the sports drink angle, I'd also suggest that only have 2 a week is not enough to cause significant erosion. It may well be erosion from other aspects of your diet, but I'd be very surprised if it was caused by sports drink in the quantities you've described. An easy way to tell if it is acid erosion, is to look at the affected teeth. If it is erosion, your top teeth will be in comparatively good condition, as gravity causes the drink to settle on the floor of the mouth.

But to answer your initial question, no, I've never come across anyone with a problem similar to how you describe it.


Like an orange
nah dude, graduated pharmacy and then decided to go back for some more flogging...

exams start on monday, so fingers crossed, but i found out today i've passed my radiology requirements for the degree so i'm pretty happy about that!