Toothaches and Headaches: Is There a Connection?

Toothaches and Headaches: Is There a Connection?

Aug 01, 2021

Toothaches can be debilitating. Those who have experienced them can attest to the sleepless nights they faced. On the other hand, you could be facing a dental issue that can also cause you to have a headache.

In most cases, when faced with migraines, you will not think that our dentist is the go-to person who can help diagnose and treat your condition. Countless people having recurring migraines could get treatment by visiting our dentist. This is because there is a correlation between your teeth and the migraines you are experiencing.

What Are Dental Headaches?

Whenever you have a toothache or any other dental issue, you may develop a migraine. You might experience a throbbing and one-sided cephalalgia accompanied by vomiting, nausea, or light and sound sensitivity. This is what is called a migraine.

In most cases, dental headaches can be classified as tension headaches. This is because they primarily originate from muscular tension that builds up over time in the jaw and face.

The cause of these migraines can be linked to the trigeminal nerve, which is one of the cranial nerves. The nerve is responsible for providing sensation to most of your face, including your teeth, gums, upper and lower lips.

Also, several dozen muscles control jaw movements, facial expressions, and motions such as swallowing. However, if these muscles are overworked and contracted for extended periods, tension will begin building up within these facial muscles.

Therefore, if an underlying dental condition can irritate the trigeminal nerve, a migraine or tension cephalalgia could be triggered.

Comprehending Referred Pain

At times, dental conditions or diseases can “refer” pain to your head. Whenever you hear the term “referred pain” being used, always know that there is a painful sensation in a different part of the body from the one causing the pain.

This is due to the many nerves that are interconnected. Therefore, when you have a dental problem, you might feel pain in your head because of the trigeminal nerve.

That’s why countless people unwittingly will see a regular doctor seeking treatment for tension headaches and migraines without ever thinking that it could be a dental problem.

What Do Dental Headaches Feel Like?

As mentioned earlier, dental headaches are mostly tension headaches. The pain will originate from one side of your head, then extend to your entire skull. When you have tension headaches, you might feel a throbbing but dull ache in your head. Other patients say that they feel as though there is a band wrapped around their heads.

When tension headaches have a dental origin, you will experience the following symptoms:

  • A dull and throbbing pain behind your eyes
  • Feeling as though your scalp or head is painful to the softest touch
  • Feeling as though your jaw muscles are sore when you wake up in the morning
  • Pain that radiates from the jaw to the head

Common Dental Problems That Cause Headaches

Several dental problems can trigger migraines, including:

  • Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Periodontitis and tooth decay have a knack for pushing pain to the head. In their infancy, pain may be located near the affected tooth, but if left unchecked, the pain will become redirected to the head. In other words, gum disease and tooth decay can cause referred pain.

  • Teeth Grinding and TMD

Teeth grinding, technically known as bruxism, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) are also common causes of migraines.

TMD is a condition that arises when there is a problem with the mechanism of the jaw and the surrounding muscles. In most cases, this condition occurs due to injury to the temporomandibular joint.

If you experience clicking or popping of the jaw, you may need to get checked by our dentist before the problem escalates.

On the other hand, bruxism happens mostly at night when people are sleeping. When you grind your teeth for extended periods, you can cause your facial muscles to over-exert without resting.

  • Bad Bite

Misaligned teeth can cause what is called a bad bite. This means that your teeth will not align as they need to, causing intense pressure on your jaw muscles. If you don’t get checked, this issue can cause difficulty swallowing and even migraines.

Therefore, you have seen that there is a connection between dental issues and migraines. So, if you have such an issue, contact us at Sunrise Dental of Wenatchee.

Click to listen highlighted text!