When It’s More Than a Headache

Headaches are a common problem. Many of us experience them from time to time. But did you know that sometimes headaches can be a sign of a dental issue? When a headache is more than just a headache, it could mean there’s something wrong with your teeth, jaw, or gums. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches along with jaw pain, tooth pain, or other dental issues, it’s important to see a dentist.

When It's More Than a Headache

The Link Between Dental Health and Headaches

Your mouth, teeth, and jaw are closely connected to your head and neck. Problems in these areas can sometimes lead to headaches. In fact, there are several common dental problems that can create headaches.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to your skull. If there’s a problem with this joint, it’s called TMJ disorder, or simply TMJ. This disorder can cause pain in your jaw, face, and around your ears. It can also lead to headaches. TMJ headaches often feel like tension headaches, with pain and pressure around your temples, forehead, and behind your eyes.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, often while you sleep. Grinding your teeth can put a lot of pressure on your jaw and teeth, leading to headaches. These headaches usually occur in the morning when you wake up. They can cause pain in your temples and around your jaw.

Dental Infections and Abscesses

A dental infection or abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. These infections often start in a tooth or the surrounding gum tissue. They can cause severe pain and swelling, and the pain can spread to your head, causing a headache. If you have a toothache along with a headache, it could be a sign of a dental infection.

Poor Bite Alignment

If your teeth don’t fit together properly when you bite down, we call it a bad bite. This can put extra stress on your jaw muscles and joints. This can create headaches. Braces, retainers, or other orthodontic treatments can often fix a bad bite and help relieve headaches.

Recognizing Dental-Related Headaches

It can be tricky to figure out if your headache is related to a dental problem. Here are some signs that a dental issue might cause your headache:

Jaw Pain or Clicking: If you have pain, clicking, or popping in your jaw when you open and close your mouth, it could be TMJ.

Teeth Grinding or Clenching: If you wake up with a headache and notice that your teeth feel sore or your jaw is tight, you might be grinding your teeth at night.

Tooth Pain: A headache that comes with tooth pain, especially if the pain is severe or throbbing, could be due to a dental infection or abscess.

Difficulty Chewing: If you find it hard to chew or your bite feels off, it might be the root of your headaches.