You might not realize that your oral health can be related to headaches. However, there is often a direct correlation between the two. If you think you know the cause of your headaches, the solution can be as easy as getting a cavity filled or wearing a night guard. If you aren’t sure, check out some issues below that will help you figure out if any of these are the cause of your headache.
There are many culprits behind an aching tooth such as a cracked tooth, cavities, or impacted wisdom teeth, to name a few. When left untreated, you may also develop a migraine headache, which is a throbbing headache that can be associated with nausea, vomiting, and/or sensitivity to light or sound. Experts suspect that toothaches cause migraines because it is linked to the trigeminal nerve, which is the fifth of 12 cranial nerves Since the trigeminal nerve is believed to play a significant role in migraines, an underlying dental condition could irritate the supplying trigeminal nerve branch and trigger a headache.
Although it may not be the actual cause of a headache, teeth grinding, or bruxism can refer pain from the teeth to the head. Referred pain is when you feel a painful sensation in a different part of your body from where the pain actually exists. This is because of the many nerve connections (passed through the trigeminal nerve) that connect the teeth and other facial structures to the brain. On top of headaches, teeth grinding can result in jaw and face pain, as well as flattened, chipped, or lose teeth Again, this is due to the many nerve connections (via the trigeminal nerve) that connect the teeth and other facial structures to the brain.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and headaches:
TMJ, is when there is a problem with a jaw joint and the muscles surrounding it. The TMJ is the hinge connecting your jaw to your skull. It allows you to do things like talk, laugh, and chew, and enables your jaw to move up and down and side to side.
Although this disorder can cause pain in the joint and muscles, it can also cause toothaches and headaches. The headaches are typically triggered by actions like chewing or opening and closing the mouth. TMJ pain has been reported in 1 out of every 10 people. Symptoms of a TMJ headaches are tight facial or jaw muscles, jaw or facial pain, a clicking noise in the jaw, restricted movement of the jaw, changes in your bite.
It is possible that a sinus headache may come from your teeth, especially from your upper teeth. A chronic sinus infection can also sometimes be caused by an underlying tooth infection. The root of your teeth can become infected and spread to your sinuses, causing a headache. Symptoms of a sinus infection include: fever, bad breath, ear pressure, nasal congestion and discharge, and fatigue.
So how can you treat headaches caused by oral health issues? Lifestyle changes are a good place to start, especially when it comes to pain from TMJ. Changing even the smallest behaviors that are associated with your jaw can be helpful. Avoiding hard or chewy foods will help give you some relief; reducing stress will help prevent jaw clenching and avoiding jaw movements such as yawning, or gum chewing can be beneficial. Short-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as Advil, Aspirin or Aleve can also reduce jaw pain and headache. If these short-term methods don’t help you, then make sure you see your dentist or doctor for other prescribed treatments and to investigate the issue further.