Dental Issues May Trigger Migraine Attacks

Dentistry Today


More than a billion people around the world, including more than 36 million in the United States, experience migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Specific triggers include bright light, changes in barometric pressure, allergies, high humidity, hormonal fluctuations, obesity, medication overuse, specific smells and foods, lack of sleep, and stress.

But this pain also may be caused by oral health, reports Common dental issues associated with headaches and migraines include: 

  • Bad bite: Loose, missing, sore, or misaligned teeth create a bad bite that forces jaw muscles to work harder to bring teeth together, swallow, and even keep the mouth closed. This can lead to persistent muscle inflammation that can trigger a migraine or headache. 
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth: Grinding and clenching also can cause muscle and gum inflammation, triggering migraines and headaches. Many people are unaware that they gnash their teeth. Sore jaws, a clicking sound when opening the mouth, a dull and constant headache that originates around the temples of behind the eyes, tender teeth, trouble opening and closing the mouth, and tongue indentations are typical signs of tooth grinding.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease: Caries and periodontitis can “refer” pain to the head, making people believe they suffer from headaches rather than an oral infection. A throbbing toothache also can trigger a migraine episode or a headache.

Some dentists have observed that patients who frequently experience “one-sided” headaches or migraines often have bad bite issues, reports. Patients who experience symptoms like these should see a dentist regularly and keep dental professionals informed about their headache or migraine history, the company adds. These issues possibly could be corrected with a simple dental procedure, orthodontic treatment, or mouth guard. 

“Unfortunately, when people can’t afford to see a dentist regularly, dental issues that cause headaches and other health complications can be misdiagnosed or go untreated,” said Bill Chase, senior vice president of marketing at “Dental savings plans can help address numerous health problems, since oral health is linked to one’s overall health and may impact or even help prevent many diseases and medical conditions.”

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