Dental Treatment May Help Relieve Your Headaches

In some cases, chronic headaches are related to oral health. In fact, about 80 percent of headaches stem from muscle tension—a bad bite being a common cause. 

Oral health problems that put pressure on the jaw joints often lead to tension headaches and symptoms such as aching jaw muscles, popping jaw joints, ringing in the ears, and pain behind the eyes. Headaches related to your dental health may even be accompanied by neck, shoulder, or back pain. Therefore, if your primary care physician can't identify the cause of your headaches, it may be time to see your dentist.

Bite Problems

When teeth aren't properly aligned, jaw muscles have to work harder to bring the upper and lower teeth together. This strains facial muscles and jaw joints, which tighten and eventually become painful. Even though problems in your mouth trigger the pain, you may feel it in your head.

Swollen gum tissue when a wisdom tooth becomes impacted is another cause for a misaligned bite that can lead to tension headaches. But regardless of the cause, correcting your bite removes the additional stress on the jaw muscles, relieving headaches related to facial and jaw muscle strain. Your dentist may fit you with braces or a splint or night guard that fits over your teeth to correct misaligned teeth.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD)

Although the exact cause is unknown, factors associated with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) include injury to the jaw or muscles of the head and neck, arthritis in the jaw joint, teeth grinding, or stress which can cause you to tense and tighten your jaw muscles. Additional symptoms may include toothaches, jaws that lock, dizziness, and headaches.

When over-the-counter analgesics aren't enough to alleviate the pain, your dentist may prescribe muscle relaxants or antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to relieve stress and reduce pain. He or she may also recommend trigger point injections into facial muscles or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy to relax your jaw joint and provide pain relief.

Tooth Abscess

An abscessed tooth can cause pain that radiates up the side of your head. Since a bacterial infection generally is the cause of a dental abscess, you may also experience symptoms such as fever, swelling of gums, nausea, vomiting, and a throbbing toothache.

If you fail to receive dental treatment for a cavity or tooth infection, a bacterial infection can spread to the gums and other soft tissues of the face. A severe infection can spread to the jaw and facial bones. Since a dental abscess won't heal on its own, you need to see a dentist for treatment.