Which Dental Conditions Cause Headaches?

Could Your Migraine Be a Dental Problem?

It is not too unusual that people can have headaches that are caused by dental problems. The nerves between the teeth and the brain are connected, and this can cause a toothache and headache pain. It also means that other dental problems, such as teeth grinding, can bring on the headache pain as well. The good news is that taking care of your dental problems can give you relief from your toothache headache. 


The Causes of a Dental Headache

The nerve that communicates both toothaches and headaches is called the trigeminal nerve. It supplies information to and from your brain to the following: the jaw, the face, your scalp, your teeth, and many of the things in your mouth. Pain from one area along this nerve, can in some people, trigger pain to be caused in other areas. 



In addition, when there is a toothache that is continuous, it can start events that will lead to a migraine. Even worse is that tooth pain can trigger a headache or a migraine, which can then trigger jaw or neck pain, and it can form a non-ending loop.


Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)

Pain in your jaw and face can occur in the joint where the jaw and temporal bones of your skull connect. Problems can be caused between the muscles and your jaws. When there is a problem, often caused by stress, it can produce pain in your jaw and face, as well as create a headache that mimics migraines. 

Many times, these headaches will be diagnosed as a tension headache. In fact, this misdiagnosis may occur in as much 82 percent of the cases involving women. When looking at the symptoms more carefully, however, a more correct diagnosis can be given by a dentist. Symptoms to look for include:

  • Pain in one or more of your TMJs
  • Facial pain
  • The joint may lock at times, making it difficult for your mouth to open or close 
  • Difficulty when chewing
  • Tenderness or pain in the jaw


Abscessed Tooth

A tooth becomes abscessed when it and the tissue around it become infected. This will cause a lot of pain. The lingual nerve functions as the channel through which pain signals travel. As the infection increases, it will put pressure on the nerve, which can cause shooting or stabbing pain to the sides or top of your head. An abscessed tooth must be treated by a dentist because it is apt to keep on spreading and cause even more pain and decay.

An abscessed tooth is serious and can become life-threatening if ignored. If your pain radiates to your jawbone, ear or neck, you have a fever, swelling in your face, and tender lymph nodes that are also swollen in your neck or under your jaw, you should see a doctor immediately. If your dentist is not available, go to an emergency room, especially if you are having trouble swallowing or breathing.


A Bad Bite (Malocclusion)

Headaches that have a dental cause are often identified as a tension headache. This is often caused by having a malocclusion, or bad bite. This means that all your teeth are not hitting at the same time – as they should. Instead, your jaw muscles are pulling your jaw to one side or the other in order to make some kind of compensation. This can have several causes, including orthodontics, wisdom teeth coming in, or earlier dentistry. 

Tense muscles in the jaw, sending signals through the lingual nerve, can create headaches. When the bite is corrected, the headaches often disappear. 


Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

If you tend to grind your teeth – day or night (or both) – it can also produce headaches. It tenses your jaw muscles and may place a strain on them. The pain from the strain can radiate to your temples, behind your eyes, and on your forehead. 

Some dentists believe that people who grind their teeth at night may do so as a result of sleep apnea. The grinding may be an effort to open the air passages. If so, a proper diagnosis from a dentist and sleep specialist can help you. A dentist can also provide you with a dental appliance to help your breathing. 

Being aware of jaw or teeth problems can help you get the pain relief you want from a tooth pain headache. You need to be able to tell a dentist about all of your symptoms in order to get better and more accurate treatment. 


The next time you have a toothache causing headache, if you live in the Carrollton, TX, Cedar hill TX, Dallas TX and Grapevine, TX areas, you can contact Dr. Kumar Vadivel DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified periodontist for diagnosis and help. In order to make an appointment, or to get more information, call today at (214) 731-0123.