Could My Tooth be Causing My Headache?

Posted by Dr. Soto Jun 15, 2018

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Chronic headache pain tops the list of medical complaints in the United States. It is often difficult to determine the cause of a headache, and even more difficult sometimes to find effective ways to relieve the pain. Muscle tension is said to be a contributing factor about 80 percent of the time.

The real revelation is that, in many of these cases, muscle tension that causes headaches can be caused or worsened by dental problems. Muscles in the jaw work extremely hard every day. When your teeth are not properly aligned or when you clench your jaw or grind your teeth, the muscles in the jaw overcompensate and work even harder.

It makes sense that fixing dental issues may help solve headache problems, too.

Signs Your Headache May Be Caused by Dental Issues

The problem with headaches is that they can be symptoms of many different problems, so narrowing down the cause or trigger can be difficult. How headaches are experienced can vary widely as well. For example, some report it as pain in the center of the head, or as a dull ache that starts between the eyes and spreads toward the ears. The pain may be generalized and felt all over the head, or it might affect just one side. It may be near-constant or felt as periodic throbbing or stabbing pains.

Headaches due to dental issues may be preceded or accompanied by certain signs and symptoms, including:

  • A toothache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Popping or clicking of your jaw (TMJ)
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Scalp tenderness

How exactly are dental issues related to headaches? Here are some of the ways a pain in your mouth can turn into debilitating headaches:

Nerve pain. The trigeminal nerve is present in the lower jaw, cheek, and forehead; it is responsible for transmitting sensations from the face to the brain. Many headaches and migraines can be triggered by dental problems affecting this nerve.

Muscle overwork. The same muscles that work so hard to help with chewing can be overloaded if there is a problem with the mouth, teeth, or jaw. The pain, rather than being felt in the mouth, will manifest anywhere else along the route of the trigeminal nerve. In other words, pain often radiates to nearby sites and may confuse the best efforts to find the origin of headache pain.

TMJ and teeth-grinding. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and teeth-grinding (bruxism) are two of the most common causes of headaches that are related to dental issues. TMJ limits the movement of the jaw; it can result in headaches and soreness in nearby muscles. Repetitive grinding of teeth or clenching of the jaw can result in a constant headache and sore jaw, especially upon awakening.

Since headache pain is often difficult to trace, it is important that you keep records of the type of pain and any apparent triggers. These clues can help your dentist assess possible causes of your headaches and can provide effective dental treatment.

Millions of Americans struggle with headaches due to dental problems – without even realizing it. Regular dental checkups are critical, both for good oral health and to relieve related headache pain.

To learn more about the link between headaches and your teeth, call Dr. Ernie Soto at (954) 368-6264 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment online.

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