Oral Health Plays a Role in Migraines and Headaches

Dentistry Today


As June marks National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, DentalPlans.com said that oral health plays a role in migraines and headaches and is encouraging people to take care of their head, smile, and overall health.

Migraines and headaches are different, DentalPlans.com said, both can be triggered by some of the same things, including but not limited to stress, alcohol, overindulgence or withdrawal from caffeine, bright sunlight, dehydration, blood sugar fluctuations, and weather changes.

Oral health issues that can be treated by dentists also can impact migraines and headaches, DentalPlans.com said, including:

  • Loose, missing, or misaligned teeth: These conditions force 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.
  • Tooth grinding and jaw clenching: This can cause muscle and gum inflammation, triggering migraines and headaches. While tooth grinding often is related to stress, a “bad bite,” or teeth that aren’t properly aligned, also can result in tooth grinding.
  • Tooth decay: A throbbing toothache can trigger a migraine or headache.
  • Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs): It is unclear whether TMDs cause migraines or whether migraines are what triggers pain in the jaw and teeth of those with TMD issues. Either way, research shows that treating such underlying oral health issues can reduce the frequency and severity of the associated headaches and migraines.

Dentists can treat all of these conditions, but people who experience frequent, severe, or new head pain should speak with their primary doctor as soon as possible, DentalPlans.com said. Primary doctors can work with patients to understand the cause of the pain and develop a plan to manage it. If oral health plays a role in the pain, doctors can refer patients to a dentist who specializes in head pain.

“Research continues to show that dental health plays an important role in overall health, including having the power to cause or worsen headaches and migraines,” said Jenn Stoll, chief commercial officer at DentalPlans.com.

“While dentists can certainly treat oral health issues causing headaches/migraines after the fact, preventive care such as regular dental checkups can help uncover those issues earlier and treat them before they start to cause pain in your mouth or head,” Stoll said. “Preventive care is so important, so be sure you don’t skip those appointments.”

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