Have you experienced toothache and the subsequent headache? Toothache is really irritating pain. Although the human body is complicated and teeth are one of the smallest parts, even a small throbbing or pain can cause intense irritation. And when the pain increases and the irritation expands to the facial muscles, ultimately causing the headache, the comfortable night could turn to restlessness.
When toothache and headache occur simultaneously, it is quite obvious to think that there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two. While it can be toothache triggering headache or even both occurring together, that is a symbol of some underlying health problem.
But what causes a toothache and headache? Are there any symptoms to identify them? And why do toothaches cause headaches? The questions are simple, but the reasons are multiple, and most of them are linked to oral hygiene and health. Let us understand the two aspects to find a deeper connection between the two.
Toothache: Causes and Symptoms
A toothache is pain or irritation caused in or around the nerve of the root of the tooth. It is usually caused due to the inflammation of the central portion of the tooth. The inflammation is the result of dental cavities, trauma, and infection. The pain may persist for more than 15 seconds, which can cause severe headaches and can even cause irritation to the cheek, ear, or jaw.
The most common causes of toothache are:
● Tooth decay or cavities
● Dental infection
● Abscessed tooth
● A damaged filling
● Infected Gums or exposed roots
● Repetitive movements and motions like chewing gum or grinding teeth
● Cracked or fractured tooth
● Severe sensitivity in teeth
The most common symptoms of toothache are:
● Pain while chewing
● Severe sensitivity towards hot or cold
● Sharp, throbbing pain while speaking as well
● Swelling around the tooth
● Bad odor from mouth
● Foul tasting drainage from the infected tooth
● Fever or headache
Headache: Causes and Symptoms
The pain arising in the head or the upper side of the neck, usually around the skull tissue, is the headache. The term is hard to explain and can arise spontaneously or even after doing some exercise. The persistent and throbbing pain makes it hard to concentrate and focus at one point. It sometimes creates hurdles to carry out the daily tasks freely.
Headaches are quite complicated and require different treatments based on the symptoms. Out of the various headaches, the most common ones are tension headaches, migraine, chronic, cluster, sinus, hemicrania, hormonal, NDPH, spinal, thunderclap, and various others.
The most common causes of headache are:
● Illness like cold and fever
● Severe toothache
● Emotional stress and depression
● Irregular meals
● Inappropriate sitting postures
● Eyesight problems
● Intake of heavy medicine doses
● Lack of sleep and dehydration
The most common symptoms of the headache are:
● The sensation of pain on the forehead
● Tenderness on scalp, neck, and shoulder muscles
● Chronic fatigue or crankiness
● Trouble concentrating and focusing
● Pain around eye and problem of vision
● Nausea and sensitivity to light or noise
● Trouble in falling asleep and waking up
Link Between Toothache and Headache
As a matter of fact, any pain in the body can cause a headache. But the link between toothache and headache is more prominent as compared to others. The basic reason behind this is the proximity of the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is the basic cause of any pain linked to the teeth, gum, or jaw. Being the largest nerve in the head and one that originates from the skull, even a small sensation triggers from here, can cause headaches.
The toothache that occurs from the nerve inflammation can often create a nagging and constant headache. The dental conditions that can cause the headache are as follows:
● Tooth infection causes both toothache and headache
A severe tooth infection can expose the nerve or lead to abscess formation, leading to constant heaviness or headache. The infection leads to swelling or tooth decay that, when left untreated, can cause severe sensations around the nerve, causing a persistent headache.
● Dental Work can cause a headache.
Dental work like tooth filling, a crown, veneer, or any other restoration or even teeth alignment using braces, when done properly, can trigger off a chronic, nagging headache. Improperly done dental work can lead to tooth exposure or damage to gums, causing severe pain and headache.
● Toothache can trigger migraines.
Any tooth problems like a cavity, impacted wisdom teeth, or any of the tooth decay problems that can develop migraines when left untreated. The throbbing and persistent pain can even lead to the associated symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or even sensitivity to light or sound. The dental condition can create irritation in the supplying trigeminal nerve branch and trigger migraines.
● Referred Tooth Pain to head
Refer Pain is when the pain is felt in a separate area where the pain is actually happening. This is mainly caused due to the same nerve, the trigeminal nerve that connects the teeth, facial tissue, and skull. Two such situations link the toothache and headache, which are Bruxism and Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis.
Bruxism is caused due to the clenching or grinding of teeth, usually at night, which causes dull pain around the forehead. In contrast, Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis is a rather serious dental condition that can be life-threatening. It causes severe headaches and can be felt behind the eyes and forehead as well.
● Related underlying health issues
These are the health conditions that can cause both the headache and toothache. The most common of them are Sinus Infection and Trigeminal Neuralgia. The first one irritates the upper teeth, especially that causes the headache when bending forward. On the contrary, Trigeminal Neuralgia is the irritation in the trigeminal nerve that connects the tooth, facial tissues, and skull. This is caused by tooth decay, treatment or even tooth extraction, then causes a long-lasting headache.
● Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMJ
It is the jaw joint located in the front of the ear and the muscles surrounding it. The facial movements like eating, chewing, biting, talking, swallowing, yawning, and related other jaw movements caused minor changes in the joints, which can cause chronic headaches. The headache is described as a nagging and aching pain that can develop cluster headache or migraine.
Relieve the Pain
While the reason why toothaches cause headaches is quite visible due to the link of the trigeminal nerve, it is equally important to know the steps to relieve the pain. The most important thing to keep in mind while looking to relieve the pain is to maintain a high oral hygiene level.
Also, if the toothache or headache is persistent for a long time, visiting the healthcare facility is important. Tooth decay or exposed nerves need to be treated with the help of a root canal, tooth filling, or any other dental procedure that might suit, but timely advice from the doctor is a must.
When the pain is due to improper dental work, the restoration of the same can offer relaxation from the headache. In either of the cases, it is important to find the underlying cause before moving towards securing a cure for it.
Various reasons cause toothache and headache, and the symptoms are quite different. Getting in deep to identify the reason for the toothache and headache is a tedious process and challenging. Diagnosis of the headache and toothache is also harsh as the one undergoing the pain might leave it untreated due to a lack of understanding.
The toothache and headache are inter-linked because of the trigeminal nerve. Oral and dental hygiene is important, and following simple steps towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help one be relieved from both the pains. Ensure to keep an eye on any small issue and consult the registered physician to avoid any adverse symptoms. Follow the treatment plan to avoid toothache, triggering headaches.