When we feel a headache coming on, we don’t typically jump to accusing our mouths of being the source of the issue. However, your headaches could be caused due to a number of factors in and around your mouth. If you have frequent headaches, read on to learn how oral bacteria or TMJ could be to blame (plus how we can help!)
What are Headaches?
Headaches are one of the most common pain conditions in the year, with up to 75% of adults experiencing one in the last year. Unfortunately, there are many different types of headaches. From cluster headaches, to migraines and more, there are a lot of different ways that having a headache could affect you. During a headache, an unknown mechanism activates specific nerves that affect muscles and blood vessels. These nerves then send pain signals to the brain.
Causes of Headaches
Headaches can be caused by several different triggers, like:
- Alcohol use
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Emotional stress related to family and friends, work, or school
- Excessive medication use
- Eye, neck, or back strain caused by poor posture
While all these things and more can cause headaches, sometimes our mouths can also be the cause of our pain. Keep reading to learn how your oral health could be affecting your head.
Headaches and Your Mouth
At any given point, our mouths are full of bacteria. Some of this bacteria is beneficial, however, sometimes bad bacteria can accumulate and cause issues. Research has shown that oral bacteria could be a potential contributing factor to the onset of migraines. According to this research, the connection between oral bacteria and migraines may be nitric oxide, a cellular signaling molecule involved in many pathophysiological processes. In the past, studies have shown that increased levels of nitric oxide in the bloodstream can trigger migraines and other types of headaches. However, recent research has suggested that oral bacteria produce nitrites when they break down a common food preservative known as nitrates, which can form into nitric oxide in the bloodstream.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are conditions that can cause headache. TMJ disorders affect the joints and muscles of the jaw. These joints and muscles can experience mobility issues, resulting in pain and discomfort in the mouth and face. Some people who have TMJ disorders may experience headaches as a symptom. A study has shown that headaches were one of the primary symptoms of TMJ disorders. The symptoms of TMJ disorders can include headaches, plus:
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty opening and closing the jaw
- Pain when chewing
- Pain in the face
- Stiffness in the jaw muscle
- Radiating pain in the jaw, neck, or face
- A change in how the lower and upper teeth fit together
- Reduced movement in the jaw
- Locking jaw
- Popping or clicking in the jaw when closing or opening the mouth
What You Can Do
If you are experiencing headaches and you believe it could be due to your dental health, Young Family Dental is here to help. We can help you determine if your oral health is the cause of your headaches. To try and prevent your headaches, follow these tips:
If oral bacteria is the cause…
When oral bacteria is the cause of headaches, you can try to prevent this by taking a look at what your oral hygiene routine is like. You should make sure to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss once a day, use a fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste, and be sure to even brush your tongue! If you begin to show signs of gum disease or cavities in addition to your headaches, make an appointment with us for a deep, thorough cleaning.
If TMJ disorders are the cause…
When TMJ disorders are the cause of your headaches, seeing your dentist to discuss TMJ disorder treatment options, like a custom-fit night guard, could help you quickly resolve your symptoms, like your headaches. Additionally, we offer neuromuscular dentistry to help with your pain. This treatment will focus on correcting jaw misalignment, meaning you can realign your jaw and possibly stop the headaches due to TMJ disorders from ever returning.
Make an Appointment with Young Family Dental
If you are experiencing headaches, make an appointment at one of our five Young Family Dental locations across Utah. Located in West Jordan, Riverton, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, and Orem — we’re here to help you relieve your mouth-related headaches. Call us today!