It’s normal to wonder if you have a headache and a teeth ache. It’s possible that your toothache is triggering your headache. Both symptoms could be caused by an underlying condition, such as a sinus infection, or temporomandibular dysfunction (TMJ).
Let’s examine possible toothache and headache connections and what this could mean for your care. The article will explain the reason and answer the question, does toothache cause pain in the temples?
Table of Contents
- 1 Toothache triggers a migraine
- 2 Dental pain and headaches
- 3 Referred Tooth Pain to Your head
- 4 Subsequent Health Problems
- 5 When should you see your healthcare provider?
Toothache triggers a migraine
A toothache can be caused by many things, such as cavities, broken teeth, or impacted wisdom teeth. These conditions can lead to a migraine if they are not treated.
Migraines can be described as a throbbing headache that is usually one-sided and often associated with nausea, vomiting, and/or sensitivity to light or sound.
Experts believe the link between migraines and toothaches is the trigeminal neuron, a cranial nerve that controls eye movement and sensations. The trigeminal nervous gives you feeling all over your face, including your gums and upper lip.
Trigeminal nerves are believed to play a major role in migraine development. In this instance, toothache pain is thought to irritate the nerve triggering a migraine.
Dental pain and headaches
Headaches that are related to or originate from the oral cavity themselves, such as headaches, are rare. Most pains that originate from the mouth (or oral cavity) are localized to the source. These are the main causes of pain that originate from the mouth:
- Tooth Decay/Cavities
- Cracked Teeth
- A Dying Tooth
- Gum (Periodontal Infection) [Especially associated Wisdom Teeth]
- Dental Abscesses that originate from the Pulp Chamber (Nerve Space within the Tooth).
- Temporo-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction – Dry Socket (Post-Extraction Infection)
The pain from the first four causes almost always remains in the mouth. Sometimes, the pain may radiate from their oral source to nearby tissues.
It seems that the pain is always more intense and closer to its source. These would not be considered a source for ‘headache’.
All three of the last three items on this list can cause pain. This may be described as a headache, facial pain, or both.
The common cause of facial pain and headaches is Temporo-mandibular dysfunction (TMD). This has been addressed in a separate section.
Dental abscesses may cause pain in the upper teeth (typically from an upper tooth) or in the lower jaw (mandible).
This is due to pressure buildup from an infection that has spread from the pulp chamber of a tooth. Pressure along the tissue planes causes pain. This can cause severe pain.
This condition can also be caused by other infections in the mouth, such as those in the periodontium or gum region. However, they are less common.
This type of infection can be very obvious and should be treated immediately with antibiotics.
Most infections of the oral tissues can be treated quickly and prevented from spreading to the mouth.
After an extraction, a ‘dry socket’ refers to an infection that has developed on the bone’s surface. Because of its position, the body’s natural defenses and antibiotics protect it somewhat.
This condition is most commonly described by pain in the extraction area. Sometimes, pain radiates up to the temple and neck and can be felt in the face. The only sign of this condition may be facial/temple/neck pain.
The pain will only get worse if the patient does not seek treatment immediately. This condition will always be related to a recent extraction (between 2 and 10 days ago).
Mucosal (soft tissue), problems can also cause pain in the oral cavity. These are very rare.
These include Lichen Planus / Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis / and Bullous type diseases.
These issues can be discussed with your dentist or the Dental Association of your state.
It is possible that Jaw and dental problems can cause Headaches or Migraines. Therefore, it is important to get them checked out. You should also look into other possible causes, as Headaches and Migraines can be caused by more than one factor.
Signs That Your Headache Could Be Due to Dental Problems
Headaches can be symptoms of many other problems. It can be hard to pinpoint the cause. There are many ways headaches can be experienced.
Some people describe it as a dull ache between the eyes that spreads to the ears and a pain in the middle of the head.
Others report it as a dull ache. It may affect one side or all of the head. The pain may be constant or intermittent, or it could feel like throbbing or stabbing.
Some signs and symptoms that may accompany headaches due to dental problems include:
- The pain behind the eyes
- Teeth grinding (bruxism).
- Clicking or popping your jaw (TMJ).
- Sore jaw muscles
- Scalp tenderness
What are the causes of headaches in dental problems? These are just a few of the many ways that a toothache can lead to debilitating headaches.
Nerve pain: Trigeminal nerve. It is located in the lower jaw and cheeks. It transmits sensations from the brain to the face. Dental problems that affect this nerve can cause migraines and headaches.
Muscle overwork: If there are problems with the jaw, teeth, and mouth, these same muscles can overwork.
Pain that is not felt in the mouth will be felt elsewhere along the route for the trigeminal nervous system. This means that pain can radiate to other areas and confuse efforts to locate the source of headache pain.
TMJ, teeth-grinding. Bruxism and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), are two common causes of headaches. TMJ can limit the movement of your jaw and cause headaches.
A constant headache can be caused by repetitive grinding or clenching of your jaws, especially when you wake up.
It is important to keep track of your headaches and any triggers. These clues will help your dentist determine the cause of your headaches so that they can offer effective treatment.
Millions of Americans suffer from headaches caused by dental problems, often without realizing it. Regular checkups are important for both good dental health as well as to alleviating headache pain.
Referred Tooth Pain to Your head
A toothache can trigger a migraine and tooth decay or advanced gum disease may “refer” pain back to the head.
Referred pain is when you feel pain in an area other than the one causing it. This is due to the numerous nerve connections (via trigeminal nerve), that connect the teeth to the brain.
One example of referred head pain is bruxism. This is when a person grinds or clenches their teeth. This is often done at night.
A headache caused by bruxism can be described as a dull, aching pain that surrounds the head or is behind the eyes. Other signs of bruxism include sore jaw muscles and jaw muscles, clicking at the jaw joint, and difficulty opening and closing your mouth.
Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis
Cavernous sinus thrombosis can be caused by untreated dental conditions. A cavernous sinus thrombosis is a life-threatening, serious blood clot that forms in the brain behind the eye. This happens when an infection in your head or face spreads to the brain.
The main symptom is severe headaches, which are often felt behind the eyes or on the forehead. Other symptoms of cavernous sinthrombosis, which include severe headaches, are:
- High fever
- The weakness in the eye movement
- Eyelid swelling
- Eyeball protrusion (called proptosis).
Subsequent Health Problems
Some conditions can cause both a toothache and a headache, but they are not related to a headache or dental disorder.
A sinus infection can cause discomfort in one or more teeth, particularly in the upper teeth below your maxillary sinus. This is located behind your cheekbones.
Sinus infections can cause tooth pain and headaches.
Sinus infection can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Nasal congestion and yellow/green mucus
- Fullness or pressure in the ear
- Bad breath
Temporomandibular Joint Disease
Another condition that can lead to toothaches is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ refers to a problem in the jaw joint. It is located behind your ear and the muscles around it.
TMJ can cause headaches, in addition to toothaches. These headaches can be described as an aching pain that begins near the ear and moves to the jaw, temple, neck, or both.
These headaches are often triggered by jaw movements, such as chewing or opening and closing your mouth.
Trigeminal neuropathy is a condition that causes pain due to compression or damage to the trigeminal nervous system. This condition causes severe, stabbing, or shock-like facial pain that is usually only on one side.
Many times, pain radiates from the upper or lower jaw. This is why it is important to see your dentist immediately. They mistakenly believe that they have abscessed teeth.
It’s quite common for someone to have multiple unnecessary tooth canals and tooth extractions before they receive a diagnosis of trigeminal neuropathy.
When should you see your healthcare provider?
You should see your doctor if you have a headache or a toothache. It can be difficult to determine the root cause of a toothache or headache, even for your doctor. This is why it’s so important to persist in seeking out the cause.
If you are still experiencing toothache pain after having dental treatment, speak to your healthcare provider to discuss a visit with a neurologist or an ear, nose, and throat doctor.