When you think of what may be causing your headaches, many things may come to mind – lack of sleep, stress, poor posture, et cetera. But one reason you may not have considered is that a dental issue may be causing those headaches.
Most people don’t expect oral health and headaches to be related. But they often are! Many headaches are caused by problems that can be treated by your dentist.
Jaw and neck pain can trigger head pain, and vice versa. Believe it or not, muscle tension from dental issues can even spread to other areas of your body. For example, if you have mouth pain and so you clench the muscles in your mouth, you may also start clenching the muscles in your neck – causing pain there – which can extend to your shoulders.
How Dental Issues Can Cause a Headache
Headaches can be caused by a number of different ailments related to your dental health – from the simplest of cavities to a more complex jaw issue. Let’s take a look at the various ways dental issues can be causing your headaches.
Cavities or Infection
If you have pain in your teeth or gums because of cavities, an infection, or an abscess, that pain can radiate to other parts of your head. This is due to your trigeminal nerve, which controls biting and chewing, as well as the sensations in your face.
Pain in one part of the nerve can trigger pain in other parts of the nerve. Therefore, if the pain started in your tooth, for example, you can feel it in other parts of your head, such as your forehead, temples, or behind your eyes.
A major cause of dental headaches can be a bad bite – which can occur due to misaligned teeth or jaw. When the chewing surfaces of your teeth don’t meet each other properly when shutting your jaw, it can cause pain and headaches.
Many things can cause a bad bite, such as:
- Missing or damaged teeth
- Incoming wisdom teeth
- Previous dental work
- Underbite (when the lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth)
- Severe or misaligned overbite
When your bite is misaligned, your jaw muscles have to work harder to align your teeth to chew your food – thus becoming strained and causing pain.
Teeth Grinding and Jaw Issues
The most common headaches associated with dental issues are tension headaches. These tension headaches are caused by muscle strain that builds up in the mouth and jaw.
Some people grind their teeth when they sleep or experience clicking in their jaw, both of which can cause sore jaw muscles and an accompanying headache. These headaches can cause a dull pain in your teeth or mouth, or on the sides of your head. When you grind your teeth while you sleep, you’re overworking your jaw muscles, which can cause pain.
In some people, teeth grinding may be caused by obstructive sleep apnea, in which the soft tissue in the throat obstructs the airways. Loud snoring is a good indicator of this. The reason for the teeth grinding is because people with sleep apnea may move their jaw back and forth to help open the airway. A dentist can evaluate you for this condition and treat it using an oral device while sleeping to prevent this.
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome)
If you grind your teeth, have clicking or popping in your jaw, cannot open your mouth fully while yawning, and/or have jaw pain, you may have a common condition called TMJ. This condition upsets the musculature of your jaw, which can cause severe headaches. In fact, these headaches are often misdiagnosed as migraine headaches.
If any of these issues sound familiar, you should see a dentist to evaluate your jaw muscles and your bite. You may need an orthodontic device to help correct the issue.
Skilled Dentist in St. Paul
Are you suffering from headaches? There’s no need to suffer anymore. If you’ve been to your general practitioner and haven’t found a reason for your headaches, it may be time to see an experienced dentist for an evaluation.
Dr. Steven Hagerman of Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of Minneapolis/St. Paul can help you determine whether those headaches are a result of underlying dental issues. Regular visits to your dentist and maintaining your oral health can be the key to eliminating your headaches.
To schedule an appointment or a consultation, and to receive the personalized care you deserve, please call our office at (651) 646-2392 today. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you get much-needed relief from dental-related headaches so you really have a reason to smile.