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Why Tooth Pain Causes Headaches

Tooth pain often stays within the mouth. But, did you know that it can also lead to headaches? If you have constant headaches, it may be related to your teeth. There is an intricate network of nerves and blood vessels in your head and face. As a result, there is a surprising link between tooth pain and some of those pounding headaches. 

You may have tooth pain for various reasons. Some of the more common factors include tooth decay, cracked teeth, and even teeth grinding. There are incredibly sensitive nerves inside your teeth. When they are exposed to bacteria or temperature changes, they send signals to your brain. As a result, you can feel mild to severe pain. This pain can also cause headaches. 

Why Tooth Pain Causes Headaches

The Path of Pain: Nerves and Blood Vessels

The nerves in your teeth connect to the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is one of the largest nerves in your head. It extends from your face to your brainstem. It transmits sensory information, such as pressure, temperature, pain, etc. When you have tooth pain, these signals travel along the trigeminal nerve pathways. This is why you may have a headache when you have tooth pain.

However, this nerve isn’t solely responsible for relaying tooth pain. It also connects to various areas of your head and face. This intricate connection creates the potential for tooth pain to radiate to other areas. This can trigger headaches in seemingly unrelated areas.

Types of Headaches Triggered by Tooth Pain

You may experience different types of headaches as a result of tooth pain. 

Tension Headaches

Tooth pain can lead to tension headaches. Typically, tension headaches are related to tooth grinding or clenching your jaw. The strain on your jaw muscles can relay this information through your nerves. The nerve connection can cause pain that radiates to your temples, forehead, and even the back of your head.

Migraine Headaches

While migraines are complex and have various triggers, tooth pain can make them worse. The nerve’s involvement means that tooth pain can lead to the intensity and duration of migraine episodes.

How Tooth Pain Leads to Headaches

One way that tooth pain leads to headaches is due to muscle tension and jaw alignment. Tooth pain can cause you to alter your bite to avoid discomfort. Unfortunately, this can change the way your teeth and jaw sit together. This change can lead to muscle tension and spasms. As a result, you can experience more headaches. 

When you have tooth pain, it can affect the blood vessels in your head. For example, it can create an inflammatory response that leads to changes in blood flow. This change can actually trigger headache symptoms. 

Seeking Relief: Addressing Headaches

If you have constant headaches, you want relief from the pain. Your first step is to find the root cause. Your dentist can help you discover whether a cavity, gum disease, or teeth grinding is holding you back. To help with pain, you might try pain relievers to manage your symptoms. You may also manage your stress to help your pain.