Toothache or Headache?

Toothaches are often related to infection or abscess in the root of a tooth and may cause significant pain in the jaw and head. In some cases an infected tooth may be a cause or trigger of headaches or migraines. It is important to see your dentist for evaluation and treatment and schedule regular dental visits.

You may see your dentist for a toothache but no infection can be found upon examination. In this case, your toothache may actually be a headache.

There are several conditions that may mimic a toothache or cause dental-type pain.

Temporomandibular joint syndrome is a condition that affects the area of the head where the joint and the skull connect. Injury, degeneration, or dysfunction of this area may lead clenching of the job which may cause earache, migraine, headaches, or shoulder pain.

Additionally, bruxism is a condition which involves clenching grinding and clenching of the teeth especially at night time when asleep that may be related to stress, certain medications, or dental issues. This may lead to spasms in the muscle of the jaw, stiffness and pain in the jaw, dental problems, migraines, and headaches especially in the morning.

Lastly, orofacial pain or primary headache disorder that may be the cause of a toothache. Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of facial pain that is caused by the trigeminal nerve, involving sharp, shooting electrical tape pain that is often triggered but stimulus such as moving the jaw, wind, or brushing teeth. Another headache disorder called primary stabbing headache involves short stabbing type head pain that may involve one area of the teeth or all of the teeth.

If you have what you feel is a toothache, it is vital to be evaluated by both a dentist and a neurologist or headache specialist.

Brooke Steiger, NP