The link between migraines and tooth ache

It is estimated that one billion people in the world suffer from migraines. Interestingly, migraines appear to be related to tooth pain and certain other conditions that cause oral or facial pain.

What is a migraine?

It is important to note that a migraine is more than a bad headache; it is a neurological disorder. Surprisingly, a headache is only one symptom of a migraine and it can result in throbbing pain on either or both sides of your head. Some people don’t actually get a headache and only experience a migraine’s other symptoms.

Chronic migraine sufferers might:

  • Have to miss days of work or school
  • Lose up to 15 days per month to a migraine
  • Increase the risk of other conditions such as anxiety and depression
  • Experience sensitivity to light, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, facial tingling or numbness,

We now know that lots of things can trigger migraines, including lifestyle and environmental factors, weather, hormones, and medications.

Dental problems associated with migraines

The following conditions are associated with migraines.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, occurs when the ball and socket joint connecting the 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. This condition can feel as though the jaw clicks and pops or becomes momentarily stuck.

Symptoms can include:

  • Tender jaw muscles
  • Severe headaches or migraines
  • Earaches and toothaches
  • Clicking or popping sounds

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

You might suffer from grinding or clenching your teeth. This can be caused by stress, misaligned teeth, or nerve and muscle diseases in the face.

Symptoms can include:

  • Morning headaches
  • Tight jaw muscles
  • Cracked or damaged teeth, leading to tooth pain
  • Migraines
  • Grinding sounds at night

Stress-related grinding can be treated with counselling, relaxation techniques, or sometimes even prescription medication. Children tend to outgrow teeth grinding.


You might find that you get a migraine If the pain and stress of a toothache are very severe. Migraines might also cause dental pain. This is due to a nerve injury related to both conditions.

If you find that the cause of general head pain originates from a cavity or gum issue, your dentist can help. If your dentist finds no tooth decay or gum disease, or any other dental-related cause, they will refer you to a neurologist to help you determine if and why you have migraines.


Tooth pain, jaw pain, headaches, or any facial pain might occur in connection with a migraine. Whatever is causing the pain, do not just assume it is something you have to put up with.

Talk to your dentist to investigate dental causes. Your dental professional can then 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. Please speak to your dentist if you are in any discomfort.

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