What's the Migraine-Tooth Pain Connection?
The term "orofacial" refers to your head (face, jaw, etc.), neck, and oral cavity (teeth, gums, etc.). The following orofacial conditions share certain migraine triggers, such as stress. Plus, the American Migraine Association notes that certain orofacial conditions can intensify migraines, and you might mistake migraine pain for dental pain.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, results when the modified ball and socket joint connecting your upper and lower jaw doesn't function correctly. The joint's main purpose is to move the lower jaw in three directions: forward, backward and side-to-side. TMJ can feel as though your jaw clicks and pops or as if it becomes momentarily stuck.
TMJ symptoms include:
- Severe headaches or migraines
- Clicking or popping sounds
- Tender jaw muscles
- Earaches and toothaches.
Your dentist can diagnose TMJ for certain and offer solutions for your jaw pain. Reducing symptoms related to muscle tension can alleviate the accompanying headache you might have.
Other ways to relieve or cope with TMJ pain include avoiding excess chewing (such as chewing gum), making time for regular exercise, and massaging your jaw.
Teeth Grinding and Clenching
You might experience bruxism, the act of grinding or clenching your teeth, only while asleep or perhaps throughout the day. Bruxism can be caused by stress, misaligned teeth, or nerve and muscle diseases in the face.
Bruxism symptoms can include:
- Morning headaches
- Grinding sounds at night
- Tight jaw muscles
- Cracked or damaged teeth, leading to tooth pain.
If you display any symptoms, seek out your dentist for a proper diagnosis. Your dentist can solve dental-related bruxism by fixing your alignment or fitting you for an anti-grinding mouthguard.
Stress-related bruxism can be treated with professional counseling, relaxation techniques, or prescription medication. The United States Mayo Clinic notes that children tend to outgrow teeth grinding. If not, behaviour changes, biofeedback (a technique that monitors muscle activity), and even Botox injections are other treatment options to consider.
If the pain and stress of a toothache are severe enough, migraines might result. Also, as we noted earlier, migraines might cause dental pain. This is due to a nerve injury related to both conditions.
If the cause of head pain stems from a cavity or gum issue, a dentist can help. However, if the dentist finds no tooth decay or gum problems, they can refer you to a neurologist to determine if you have migraines.
Tooth pain, jaw pain, headaches, or any facial pain might occur in conjunction with a migraine. Whatever is causing the pain, we don't want you to just live with it. Talk to your dentist first to see if it's an oral problem. Your dental professional can either treat the pain or recommend a medical consultation. We want whatever is best for you to feel better and for you to smile more.