Migraine symptoms have many potential triggers: bright light, changes in air pressure, allergies, high humidity, stress, and more. Can dental problems trigger migraines as well?
According to the American Migraine Association, migraines affect over a billion people worldwide. Over 36 million people experience migraines in the United States alone.
What many people do not realize is that their migraine symptoms could be relieved by treating common dental problems.
An article in Dentistry Today explores the link between migraines and dental issues. Some of the dental problems that can trigger migraines include:
- Loose teeth
- Missing teeth
- Bruxism (tooth grinding)
- Clenching teeth
- Caries (tooth decay)
- Periodontitis (gum disease)
How Bad Bite Causes Migraines
Loose, missing, or misaligned teeth contribute to a bad bite. Bad bite strains the jaw muscles by forcing them to work harder to chew, swallow, and even keep the mouth shut. Over time, bad bite contributes to persistent muscle inflammation that can trigger painful migraines or headaches.
Pain that begins in the temporomandibular joints, which connect the sides of the jaw to the skull, can also lead to migraines and headaches.
Migraines often develop on one side of the head, beginning around the temple and spreading to the back of the head. Dentists observe that patients who complain of having frequent “one-sided” headaches are more likely to have dental problems relating to a bad bite.
Tooth Grinding and Migraines
Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is another common dental problem that can trigger migraines. Many people who experience tooth grinding do so at night, so they do not realize they have a dental problem, but do report persistent headaches or migraines.
Other signs of tooth grinding include:
- Clicking sound when opening the mouth
- Tender teeth
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Tongue indentations
Clenching or gnashing teeth causes inflammation in the gums and jaw muscles. As with bad bite, the inflammation caused by clenching or gnashing is a potential migraine trigger. These migraines often feel like a dull, constant headache originating around the temples behind the eyes.
Migraines, Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Gum disease is linked to a number of health issues, including migraines. Periodontitis can “refer” pain to the head, which causes sufferers to feel they are suffering from headaches.
Throbbing toothaches caused by tooth decay can also trigger headaches or migraine episodes.
Are Dental Problems Causing My Migraines?
There is a strong connection between headaches, migraines and untreated dental problems. Fortunately, there are usually ways to treat the underlying issue and diminish the migraine symptoms.
Dentists can correct many of the dental problems that trigger migraines through simple dental procedures, orthodontic treatment, or a mouthguard. In addition to relief from migraine pain, patients will experience the benefits of better oral health.
While there is no guarantee that treating the problem will end the migraines, dentists can help determine whether the symptoms and dental problems are linked. It is always worth asking.
Patients who experience symptoms of bad bite, tooth grinding, tooth decay, or gum disease should see a dentist regularly and ask about headaches and migraines.