The Link Between Your Headaches and Your Oral Health

The Link Between Your Headaches and Your Oral Health

Suffering from frequent headaches? Your dentist may have a solution.

Headaches are easily one of the most common health issues. Everyone will experience a headache at one point or another, but for 1 out of 20 adults, headaches occur on a near-daily basis. Migraines even affect an estimated 1 in 4 people in the average U.S. household, with chronic migraines being the third most common illness globally.

Sometimes when a headache creeps up, we can tell what is causing it — perhaps too much time in front of a computer screen or not drinking enough water that day. But if you’re experiencing frequent headaches or migraines and you’re not sure what’s causing them, it’s crucial you get help.

In addition to speaking with your general doctor about your headaches, you should also book a visit with your dentist.

Your oral health can either positively or negatively affect your general health.

Healthy teeth and gums elevate your overall health. Conversely, unhealthy teeth and gums degrade your overall health. Though it’s easy to assume a disconnect between our mouths and our bodies since we see a dentist for one and a doctor for the other, our oral health and overall health are one and the same.

Constant headaches and migraines are the most common symptoms of a plethora of ailments, disorders, and disease. You might be surprised to learn that headaches and head pain are also very common symptoms of a few different oral health issues.

Studies suggest oral bacteria can trigger chronic migraines.

A study conducted in 2016 showed a correlation between chronic migraines and a higher level of bacterial nitrate in the mouth. The specific strain of oral bacteria is found only in the mouth and is believed to raise nitric oxide levels in the bloodstream. Similar to how high-nitrite preservatives in certain foods can trigger a migraine, this strain of oral bacteria can cause the very same effect.

Your dentist will be able to determine if there are unusual bacterial levels in your mouth and if there are any hidden infections that could be causing inflammation-induced migraines. Proper at-home oral care is also vital in keeping your oral bacteria biome healthy. This study supports the idea that regular tongue cleaning during your normal brushing and flossing routine helps manage oral bacteria.

Your headache may be a referred pain symptom of a toothache or periodontal disease.

It’s not at all unusual for headaches to actually be referred pain. A referred pain symptom means the location of where you’re feeling the pain isn’t actually where the pain’s originating. A great example of this is a brain freeze. Despite a brain freeze literally feeling like it’s right in your brain, the pain is actually coming from your vagus nerve, which is located in the throat.

In this same way, toothaches, gum disease (periodontal disease), and an infected tooth can actually trigger a headache or migraine, with relatively little or even no pain coming from your actual mouth.

This is one example of why it’s important to see your dentist. They’ll be able to quickly tell if you have an underlying oral health issue that could be causing referred pain in the form of a headache.

Tension headaches are a common symptom of untreated TMJ, bruxism, or a bite alignment issue.

When you see your dentist for help with your headaches, one of the first things they’ll check for is any unusual wear and tear on your teeth. They’ll also ask if you find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth. The reason? Undiagnosed TMJ and bruxism are two big causes of chronic headaches in an otherwise healthy individual.

TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is a disorder that affects the jaw joints, muscles, and facial nerves. Bruxism is a disorder in which you grind, gnash, or clench your teeth, often unconsciously. Bruxism can often be a symptom of TMJ, though you can have either disorder without the other.

Both of these disorders cause pressure and tension on the teeth and/or within the jaw and face. Naturally, this can cause anything from minor soreness to a full-blown, severe migraine. These headaches or migraine attacks can happen quickly right after clenching or grinding, and even after eating. They can also cause a delayed headache, often starting later in the morning from clenching, grinding, or muscle spasms occurring while you were asleep.

Your bite alignment can also trigger headaches in a similar fashion. When your teeth don’t properly meet up, unbalanced pressure occurs whenever you eat, swallow, or speak. Over time, this can lead to chronic headaches and general pain around the teeth.

End your headaches with the help of Dr. Alhadef at Dallas Cosmetic Dental.

If headaches have been ruining your days and you can’t figure out the cause, it’s time to book an appointment with Dr. Alhadef.

During your appointment, Dr. Alhadef will perform a thorough examination to get an idea of what may be going on with your oral health. He will look for signs of decay or infection, as well as look for signs of unusual wear that may point to a grinding or clenching issue.

Dr. Alhadef may recommend you also schedule an appointment with your general doctor, especially if you’re experiencing painful, lasting headaches or chronic migraines. Even if an oral health issue is suspected to be the cause, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your health.

When you’re ready to schedule your appointment with Dr. Alhadef and the Dallas Cosmetic Dental team, you can either give our office a call or fill out our online booking form.

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