Toothaches and Headaches – What’s the Common Factor?

Toothaches and Headaches – What’s the Common Factor?

Our faces contain thousands of muscles and nerves that help us translate our feelings to facial expressions, our thoughts to spoken words, and external stimuli to internal reactions. We smile at a familiar face, say hello, and squint as we continue to talk in the bright sun.

These muscles and nerves communicate our senses largely without our knowledge until one of those senses is pain—and then they are all we think about. Headache and migraine sufferers know all too well what happens when muscles and nerves in the head and neck become irritated. One of the ways to manage recurring headaches and migraines is to manage what triggers them; illness, stress, diet, alcohol, and dehydration are common causes of headaches. And, of course, toothaches.

It turns out toothaches and headaches have something in common that goes beyond the fact they are both painful; they are both detected by the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. Because of this connection, most toothaches–and the behavior surrounding toothaches, like teeth grinding and jaw clenching–can be the direct causes of headaches and triggers for migraines.

Of course, migraines are a class of headache all to themselves. Characterized by their recurrent, throbbing pain on one side of the head, migraines are often accompanied by nausea, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells.

Your dentist and orthodontist can work with you to alleviate aggravating symptoms, like alignment and bite issues, to provide you ease and relief.

“Even when tooth pain doesn’t trigger a migraine, it certainly doesn’t make a throbbing headache feel better when the two occur at the same time,” says Dr. Crutchfield. “By improving oral health and decreasing irritation, we can often reduce pain triggers and give patients more control over their headaches.”

Are you ready to feel better? Request an appointment by calling our office at 703-263-0575.