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Dentist Explains The Relationship Between Toothache And Headache

If there is pain in the teeth of the upper jaw, especially the upper molars, the pain gets radiated into the head, triggering a headache.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Mar 06, 2023 10:00 IST
Dentist Explains The Relationship Between Toothache And Headache

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People with oral cavities and teeth issues often report headaches, which can be mild to unbearable. To learn about the association between toothaches and headaches, we talked to Dr Kishkindha, BDS, Ludhiana, Punjab. While talking to OnlyMyHealth, she says that there are 12 types of cranial nerves, but the trigeminal nerve is the most common nerve that can lead to a headache. Additionally, if there is pain in the teeth of the upper jaw, especially the upper molars, the pain gets radiated into the head, triggering a headache. Oral health conditions can trigger headaches in people who already have it or who have migraine issues but do not directly cause it.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Dr Kishinsha said, "The fundamental nerve that supplies blood to our brain is trigeminal. This nerve is further divided into the maxillary nerve and the mandibular nerve. The maxillary nerve supplies to the upper jaw, while the mandibular nerve supplies to the lower jaw."

When the trigeminal nerve is compressed or damaged, pain occurs, typically affecting just one side of the face. This is trigeminal neuralgia in which one experiences sudden bouts of agonising, stabbing or shock-like facial discomfort.

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According to Dr Kishkindha, "The mandibular nerve is not able to cause headache since it branches in the lower jaw. On the contrary, the maxillary nerve travels upwards. So the pain occurs due to trigeminal neuralgia and gets aggravated in people who have migraine issues. 


Trismus can also complicate pain in the head. As per Dr Kishkindha, "In the case of trismus, people experience difficulty in opening and closing the jaw." Also known as lockjaw, trismus leads to the condition of limited jaw movement. It does not directly cause pain in the head but aggravates it if someone has it already.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Dr Kishkindh said, "If there is the involvement of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), the pain can radiate to the head, causing a headache." The temporomandibular joint is a disorder that occurs in the jaw joint and muscles around it. Typical descriptions of TMJ headaches include an unbearable pain that begins behind the ear and radiates to the jaw, temple, or neck. Jaw movements, such as eating or opening and shutting the mouth, often cause them.

Lymph Nodes

Many types of lymph nodes exist, like preauricular lymph nodes, posterior auricular lymph, occipital lymph nodes, etc., that involve the face, head, and neck region. It is when these lymph nodes get affected that people experience headaches.

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Malalignment Of Teeth

Patients who have malaligned teeth -- as a result, they cannot chew their food properly -- can also have a headache that can persist for a long time if not treated.


Bruxism is another reason which can be associated with headaches. Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is when a person frequently grinds or clenches the teeth and can occur at anyone, predominantly at night. Sore teeth and jaw muscles, clicking and popping sounds in the jaw joint, and trouble opening and closing the mouth are some symptoms of bruxism. The headaches caused by teeth grinding are often reported to be dull that occur around the head or behind the ears.

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