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Can Toothaches Cause Headaches?

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A woman suffering from a toothache holds her left cheek with her left hand.

An intense toothache can ruin even the best day and often accompanies a severe headache. Did you ever wonder if the two could be related? The answer is yes! 

Toothaches can cause headaches, and what may surprise you is that the connection can work the other way around. 

If you’re experiencing persistent toothaches or even headaches, you could benefit from visiting the dentist for a check-up to alleviate the pain and discomfort.

What Causes Toothaches to Cause Headaches?

It turns out that toothaches and headaches can be quite interconnected. For instance, a toothache has the potential to trigger a migraine. This is because pain signals from a toothache may radiate to your head, causing discomfort.

Certain dental conditions like bruxism, which is excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching, can cause what’s known as referred pain in your head. So, if you’ve been experiencing both a toothache and headache simultaneously, there’s a pretty good chance they’re related.

Interestingly, experts suggest that this connection between toothaches and migraines is closely linked to the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is responsible for sensation in your face and gets activated when you have a toothache, potentially leading to a headache.

In some cases, a toothache could even trigger a tension headache, characterized by a tightening sensation around your head, and discomfort around your eyes, temples, and forehead.

Of course, not every headache is caused by a toothache. Other factors like sinus infections, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and more serious conditions like cavernous sinus thrombosis can also cause concurrent toothaches and headaches.

If you’re dealing with persistent toothaches and headaches, it’s best to see a doctor or a dental health professional to get to the root of the problem.

Understanding Headaches

Headaches are complex and can be categorized into different types. Tension headaches, the most common variety, give the sensation of a tight band encircling the forehead.

Migraines, on the other hand, are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light or sound.

Cluster headaches, though less common, are intense and occur in groups, hence the term cluster. They can cause a person to awaken from sleep due to severe pain on one side of the head.

Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation in the sinuses and are often accompanied by symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, and facial swelling. In understanding the intricacies of headaches, they can be managed more effectively.

How to Alleviate Pain?

Ignoring a toothache or headache can make the problem worse. Toothaches don’t just resolve on their own and are typically an indication that something more serious is wrong. The same often goes for headaches, which can be linked to issues such as toothaches.

There are several ways you can try to alleviate the pain and discomfort. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or aspirin can help relieve tension headaches and migraines. 

Applying a warm or cold compress against your head or jaw can also provide some relief. It’s also essential to avoid certain foods and drinks that could exacerbate the pain. 

If you’re experiencing these symptoms frequently, don’t ignore them. It’s crucial to see a professional to solve the issue before it escalates. Your health and well-being should always be your priority!

How to Prevent Toothaches & Headaches?

Prevention is better than treatment when it comes to toothaches and headaches. It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent toothaches. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly can make a difference.

Don’t forget about those regular dental checkups and cleanings. They’re key for detecting and treating cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems before they have a chance to worsen.

And of course, living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way in preventing these issues. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all important steps to take.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your toothache or headache lingers for several days, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Persistent symptoms could be a sign of a more severe dental or medical issue that needs immediate attention.

Certain signs should prompt you to consult with a dentist or a doctor. These include a fever, swelling or pus around the tooth, difficulty swallowing, or vision changes. Don’t ignore these symptoms!

It’s always better to get checked out and make sure that everything’s okay than to wait and potentially allow a problem to worsen. So, if in doubt, make an appointment with your dental professional.

A woman sitting in a dentist's chair, holding up a mirror and smiling with her dentist in the background

Your Toothache May Be Behind That Headache

Toothaches can cause headaches, and vice versa. The best way to prevent and alleviate the pain is by adopting a healthy lifestyle, maintaining good oral hygiene, and seeking professional help when necessary. 

It’s always wise to listen to your body and address any pain or discomfort promptly. With the right care and treatment, you can maintain a healthy smile and a pain-free head!

Book your next dental appointment with Palermo Village Dental before your discomfort becomes a problem–we’re here to help!

Written by Dr. Christopher Blair

Dr. Christopher Blair completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree at the University of Toronto. He is an avid cyclist and has often combined his passion for cycling with charitable endeavours. Most notably, Dr. Blair is passionate about his efforts to raise funds to support kids living with cancer and who are cancer survivors. Through his participation in Tour for Kids, Dr. Blair has raised thousands of dollars to support Camp Trillium, Camp Quality, and Camp Oochegeas, 3 camps in the Toronto area that support kids living with cancer.

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