Headaches and the Dentist

Headaches are always an inconvenience, especially when they occur all the time. Chronic headaches can have many causes–both obvious and obscure. If you have chronic headaches, you may consider talking to your dentist. There are several dental reasons associated with frequent headaches. If you find that your teeth are the root of your headaches, your dentist will be able to offer you a solution. 

Young man pinching the bridge of his nose due to a headache while working general dentistry dentist in Lilburn Georgia

Tooth Pain

If you have tooth pain, it could be contributing to your headaches. When you feel pain in your tooth, it can “refer” to another spot in your body. This means that the cause of your pain might be because of your tooth, but you will feel the pain in your head as a “headache.” This is because there is a nerve within your tooth that can trigger pain in your head. The trigeminal nerve runs through your face, teeth, and head. It is responsible for sensations of pain, touch, and temperature. If a toothache triggers this nerve, it can cause a headache. 

Certain dental conditions, such as cavities or broken teeth, can affect the trigeminal nerve. For example, having a long-term cavity can allow the decay to travel far within your tooth. While a cavity is mild in its beginning stages, it can burrow deep within the tooth without treatment. In fact, it is possible for a cavity to burrow far enough into your tooth to expose the nerves. This will likely cause headaches, among other pain and discomfort issues. 

A complete dental examination can reveal any hidden dental issues. Depending on the type and severity of your issue, your dentist may suggest a dental filling, root canal, or dental crown. 

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a condition in which someone clenches their jaw or grinds their teeth. Typically, this behavior occurs while the patient is asleep. However, many people clench their teeth if they are anxious or stressed. Grinding your teeth puts extra stress on your teeth and jaw, which can cause tension or muscle strain. When the muscles become tight and sore, it can cause headaches. 

Additionally, grinding your teeth can also cause enamel erosion and chipped or broken teeth. Your teeth and jaws cannot take the added strain, so something will give–teeth, muscles, joints, etc. 

To prevent further damage, your dentist can create a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth and jaws. Soon, you should see your headaches reduced. 

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

Another common issue that creates headaches is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). There are a variety of factors that can increase your chances of developing TMJ, including bruxism, genetics, or facial trauma. When the jaw joint or muscles cannot function properly, your mouth will still try to correct the imbalance. Your jaw is responsible for opening and closing your mouth. Therefore, any activity, like eating or speaking, can cause pain or discomfort. Over time, jaw irritation can cause headaches. 


Harry W. McCool, DDS, PC
Lilburn, GA Dentist

645 Beaver Ruin Rd NW, Suite A
Lilburn, GA 30047

New Patients (770) 450-4407

Current Patients (770) 381-9320


Monday - Thursday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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