If you are suffering from chronic or constant headaches, you may not realize that it could actually be tied to your oral health. Dental health and dental pain may actually be the reason for that headache. Headaches and dental pain have a lot in common, and finding that headache relief or head pain cure may require dealing with an oral health issue.
Pain as a result of a headache and/or toothache are both
transmitted through the same nerve, the Trigeminal nerve. This nerve is the
largest peripheral nerve in your head, and innervates the face, jaw, teeth and
other oral structures.
Nerves, especially the Trigeminal nerve, can be long with
many branches, or dendrites. This means that stimuli at one point can be
carried and stimulate the nerve at other points. This cascading effect is
likely to trigger a headache. This means that when a tooth is aching, as a
result of a cavity or other oral health issue, this pain is transmitted down
the nerve, and a headache may result.
This close anatomical link through this nerve is one
probable connection between headaches and tooth pain. Other factors that may
lead to migraines and head pain, based on anatomical positioning and
closeness, are jaw clenching, and neck tension. These, along with the previous
factors, make it difficult to decipher the exact cause of your migraine.
Thankfully, a dentist will be able to examine your mouth and teeth and help to determine if any dental pain may be resulting in head pain. Headache relief may be just a visit to the dentist away, so if you are suffering from migraines or chronic head pain, make sure you get your oral health examined.
Answer: Your headache could be caused by your jaw and teeth clenching. Here’s why:
When you think of a headache, you probably think about pain on the top or the side of your head. What we do not think of is that our jaws may be to blame. Clenched teeth are a common cause of many headaches or migraines. These are often referred to as dental headaches.
How does clenching
teeth cause headaches?
The joint that connects your jaw to your skull is called
the temporomandibular joint, or the TMJ for short. As with any joint, the TMJ
has muscles connecting to both sides of it, allowing it to open and close,
giving you the ability to talk and chew. It is these very muscles that could
be the cause of your headaches.
When you grind or clench your teeth, the muscles involved
are tightened. This tightening can result in pain which is transmitted or
deferred to other places in your head, ultimately causing a headache like
sensation. If this is severe or chronic, it can also be referred to a
How to avoid a
clenched teeth headache
To ease or even avoid a dental headache, you will want to
make sure that you keep your TMJ muscles from becoming tight and sore. This
can be achieved through chiropractic treatment, basic stretching, and massage.
You should also consult with your dentist to make sure that improperly aligned
teeth or other dental diseases are not contributing to your pain.
If you have been suffering from headaches, or even
migraines, make sure that you consider that it could be a dental headache. If
you are unsure, make sure you seek out professional help, and find the relief that
It is not uncommon for people to clench their jaw or grind
their teeth at night. When this becomes a constant, chronic problem, then it is
generally referred to as Bruxism. Those who suffer from bruxism tend to clench
their teeth at night when they sleep, leading to jaw pain and other possible
There are several proposed reasons as to why someone might
clench their teeth at night, although medical experts do not completely
understand the exact causes. These reasons include:
- Stress – People who are suffering from anxiety and
chronic stress are more likely to clench their jaws as they sleep.
- Medications, Alcohol or other drugs – A side effect of
some medication may be jaw clenching. Studies have shown that people who
consume alcohol, smoke tobacco, consume caffeinated beverages or use
recreational drugs are also more likely to clench their teeth at night.
- Genetic History – As with many things, teeth clenching
can be passed on through genetics. If you have a family history of bruxism, you
are more likely to suffer from it as well.
- Sleep Apnea – People who suffer from sleep apnea are
also more likely clench their teeth at night.
Unfortunately, an exact cause for bruxism is hard to narrow
down. Often minor clenching can lead to a jaw pain or a mild headache, but
severe, chronic clenching can cause damage to teeth, migraines, and severe jaw pain.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or other symptoms, you may
be clenching your teeth as you sleep. Talk to a TMJ specialist in Vancouver to
assess what might be causing you to clench your teeth, and find a way to
prevent it before complications arise.
Can TMJ be dangerous?
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, is a condition that can carry many nasty symptoms, including migraines and jaw pain. When left untreated by a TMJ specialist in Vancouver, these symptoms can become chronic and much more severe, leading to longer recovery times and debilitation.
What Causes TMJ?
TMJ can be
caused by a number of different disorders, including a misaligned jaw, bruxism,
osteoarthritis, jaw injury due to trauma or a number of other factors. With so
many contributing factors, it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact cause
without the help of a TMJ specialist. Also, each of these causes carry other
risks and concerns, and should be managed and treated.
TMJ Can Lead to Dangerous Conditions
TMJ is not
considered to be directly life threatening or dangerous, but it does carry a
danger to our quality and enjoyment of life. The symptoms, if left untreated,
can cause intense migraines and severe jaw pain. While these conditions are not
life threatening themselves, the pain and discomfort from migraines, jaw pain,
and other neck and shoulder pain can result in lack of sleep, and impair mood.
These all act as risk factors for depression, a serious and life threatening
If you find
yourself struggling with unexplained jaw pain or headaches, it may be worth
seeking out TMJ treatment in Vancouver. Often, the sooner the condition is
diagnosed and treatment begun, the less severe symptoms become and quicker
recovery can be.
Computers have become an essential part of modern life, giving access to emails, playing games, and completing work tasks. While there are many upsides to these machines, there is evidence that shows daily computer use can cause chronic head pain.
Relationship between Computer Use and Jaw-related Head Pain
If you experience regular headaches or migraines, and use computers often, these may be related. Computer use can lead to jaw-related head pain. Some headaches and migraines are generated from the jaw muscles. When these muscles tighten or are overused, the pain can travel to other areas, often resulting in headaches or even migraines.
The main culprit of jaw-related head pain from computer use is posture. When we sit at computers, we tend to slouch, lean forward, or favour one side over the other. When this posture is continued for a prolonged period of time, it can actually cause the tendons and muscles of the jaw joints to become stressed and lead to headaches.
How can this be prevented?
The best prevention is to use computers less. Unfortunately, for many of us this is not an option, as they are vital for work activities.
If you must continue to use a computer daily and for several hours, make sure that you assess how you are sitting at your desk. Make sure you position yourself to avoid slouching and sitting off balanced. Take short breaks as often as possible and move around.
Also, do not lean your head forward. Keep your head in a position where your ears do not pass your shoulders. When you slouch your head too far forward, you put strain on your neck and jaw muscles.
If you find that your headaches or migraines continue, and your are unable to discontinue your computer use, you may need to seek out other methods of head pain treatment. For most people however, being aware of, and making changes in posture, are enough to reduce headaches caused by computer use.
The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your jawbone to the rest of your skull. A common disorder known as TMJD (temporomandibular disorder) occurs when the muscles and surrounding tissue become painful, often resulting in a range of symptoms including headaches. TMJD is thought to be caused by any of the following conditions:
- Grinding or Clenching teeth during sleep
- Physical Injury
Grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep can sometimes lead to TMJD, although not always. While there are many factors that can contribute to teeth grinding and clenching, this act can put extra strain on the TMJ, resulting in pain.
Another cause of TMJD is physical injury. This occurs when the joint itself is damaged by physical force such as a blow or impact. It may also be caused by medical procedures such as breathing tubes being inserted, or some dental or orthodontic procedures requiring the jaw to be forced open for a longer time period.
Arthritis is also a risk factor for developing TMJD. The cartilage disks within the joint may become damaged due to various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. This corrosion of the cartilage can result in the jaw movement no longer being smooth, leading to pain and other symptoms.
Because TMJD can result in chronic headaches and other pain issues, it is important to get treatment if your symptoms do not go away on their own. Common treatments include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, and muscle relaxants. In more severe cases, corticosteroid injections or even Arthroscopic surgery may be required to fix the problem.
If you are struggling and looking for TMJ headache relief, now might be the time to make an appointment with your TMJ specialist in Vancouver to get the relief you need.