Various tooth-related problems can cause suffering to many. The symptoms of a toothache can vary, and one of the commonly asked questions is “Can a toothache cause a migraine?”
One often wonders how a tooth with its small size can cause so much discomfort and even pain. Unfortunately, despite its size, a tooth is a complicated part of the body that requires much care and attention.
What Are Some of the Common Tooth-Related Problems?
Many tooth-related illnesses can cause a patient to suffer either dull headaches or migraines, and they are:
Commonly known as grinding and clenching of teeth, bruxism occurs at any time of the day and even at night when one is sleeping. It is often caused by certain medications, stress, a bad bite, depression, and other dental issues.
Bruxism has many symptoms including broken, chipped, and damaged teeth. Other symptoms include tenderness in the jaw and face, grinding sound at nighttime while asleep, and stiffness in the jaw joint. One can also suffer from dull morning headaches and frequent migraine attacks.
2. TMJ Disorder
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, which is the point where the skull and joint connect and form a hinge. This joint enables a person to yawn, chew, and talk. There are muscles found underneath the TMJ, as well as on the sides and top of the head.
The TMJ clenches during various activities. During clenching, the muscles also tighten and can result in pain such as migraines and headaches, toothaches, shoulder pain, and earaches.
Can a Toothache Cause a Migraine?
Is there a relationship between migraines and toothaches? Can a toothache cause a migraine?
Yes, a toothache can cause a migraine because of the trigeminal nerve, which is the biggest, primary, and most sensitive nerve that transmits the sensations from various parts of the face to the brain. This nerve is connected to the gums, jaws, scalp, and teeth.
The trigeminal nerve can also pick up the sensation from an inflamed tooth and signal the pain to the brains. This is what happens to people who suffer from both a toothache and a migraine at the same time.
Cavities and Migraines
Cavities are a common cause of many toothaches because many people have poor oral hygiene. These are also results of consuming plenty of sugar couple with lack of proper dental care.
Cavities normally form on the surface and the root of a tooth and cause pain. They begin by slowly eating the enamel or the protective layer of a tooth. If left untreated, cavities create a hole that exposes the nerves inside the tooth.
One can expect extra sensitivity in the tooth once the nerves have been exposed. The sensation from the tooth is then sent to the areas of the nerves that transmit the sensation to the brains. Keep in mind that the facial nerves are also close and can also pick up the pain and spread it onto the whole head to cause a migraine.
Those who suffer a migraine due to a toothache can take over-the-counter painkillers as a temporary relief. It is best to get rid of the cavities altogether by visiting a dentist.
Migraines vs. Headaches Caused by a Toothache
At times, we get confused about the difference between a headache and a migraine. Toothaches can cause both a headache and a migraine. However, a migraine is a kind of pain that causes the whole head to ache while a headache can be more centralized.
Not all causes of a toothache can trigger the whole head to hurt (migraines). Here are two of the most common teeth problems that cause headaches rather than migraines:
1. The Abscessed Tooth
This is amongst the most common tooth problems and is often caused by crack coupled with inflammation around the affected area. An abscessed tooth would also have pus due to bacterial infection.
One can suffer headaches due to the abscessed tooth since several nerves on the face pass by the jaws and teeth including the lingual nerve. This can identify and transmit the sensation to the brain.
It picks up the sensation from the nerve endings of another nerve surrounding the abscessed tooth and sends a signal to the brain. When this happens, a person can experience the pain on the side of the affected jaw and tooth.
2. The Abscessed Gums
Gums too can have a pocket full of pus or what we refer to as an abscessed gum. This is also a bacterial infection that triggered the pus to develop. It has to be drained by a dentist.
An abscessed gum can also cause a headache similar to the one that resulted from an abscessed tooth. The pain is on the side of the affected area and travels all the way from the jaw to the top of the head.
What Are Ways to Avoid Migraines Due to Tooth-Related Problems?
Good oral hygiene is the best way of preventing toothaches that can trigger migraines as well as headaches. Brushing regularly, flossing, and visiting the dentist periodically can go a long way in preventing toothaches.
However, some tooth-related problems cannot be prevented by mere good dental hygiene. For example, bruxism or clenching of the teeth is due to stress, bad bites, and even medications.
Dentists, recommend wearing of a teeth guard to prevent the clenching and the grinding.
Similarly, TMJ cannot be prevented or solved by good dental hygiene. The treatment for TMJ is varied as a dentist can require you to wear a brace to get the correct bite or use a splint to correct the jaw alignment.
A Visit to the Dentist Will Help
If you are suffering from migraines and suspect that this is due to some teeth-related problems, then consult the dentist. One cannot and should not rely on the over-the-counter painkillers to fight a migraine as this is a short-term solution.
For example, a person with the TMJ may be having frequent bouts of migraines. The migraines can stop only if the TMJ disorder has been corrected. It is always best to seek the help of professionals.