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Can Teeth Cause Headaches?

Have you recently been diagnosed with chronic headaches or migraines? Without realizing it, your teeth could be the culprit. Oral health and teeth or jaw issues can be directly related to headaches.

Many times, people don’t think about the connection between toothaches or jaw tension and their effects on headaches because it is easy to see them as separate issues. Drawing connections between your oral health and headaches is helpful in order to treat and relieve your symptoms.

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How Can Your Teeth Cause Headaches?

Experiencing tooth pain can “refer” pain to your head. Referred pain is when you feel pain in one area that is not the direct cause of your pain. Certain conditions, such as teeth grinding (bruxism) or TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders) can give you headaches because of the physical effect it has on your jaw and surrounding muscles.

Grinding your teeth not only wears down your teeth, which makes them more sensitive and susceptible to tooth decay, but it also places a lot of tension on your jaw. The more tension that builds in your jaw, the more stress it puts on your jaw muscles, which can travel to the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back. Tight muscles may lead to headaches.

TMJ is a disorder where the jaw or surrounding muscles don’t function properly. It can cause a popping or clicking sound when you open or close your mouth. It can even inhibit your ability to fully open your close your jaw. The joint and muscles may ache or experience tension due to TMJ, which can contribute to your headaches.

If you have a bite problem like a crossbite, underbite, or missing teeth, you may be more susceptible to headaches. When your bite doesn’t line up properly, your jaw has to work harder to chew, speak, or even rest. Without fixing your bite problem, you can experience headaches or develop TMJ, which can cause chronic headaches and migraines.

How Can You Stop Your Headaches?

Finding the root of your tooth or jaw pain is the key to fixing your headaches. If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about obtaining a night guard. A night guard or a mouth guard will protect your teeth from the effects of grinding while you sleep; it places a gentle barrier between your top and bottom teeth.

If your tooth pain is caused by tooth decay or gum disease, your dentist should be able to correct those problems with restorative therapy or periodontal therapy. You may need a filling, or you may need a more involved procedure like a root canal.

Either way, treating the problem with your tooth or gums will help get rid of your headaches. If your pain is due to a bite problem or TMJ, your dentist will be able to offer you procedures to alleviate the tension in your jaw and to fix your bite problems.