How to Tell if A Headache Is Caused By Your Tooth

 Did you know that despite you feeling pain in your head, it could actually be coming from your jaw? 4.9 million people suffer from migraines in Australia. It is more common in women than men as 71% of migraine sufferers are female. Light, sounds, smells, stress, strenuous activity or hormonal changes can trigger a migraine. 

Your jaw is connected by two joints called ‘temporomandibular joints’ (TMJs), which connect the sides of your jaw to your skull. They help you open and close your mouth when you talk, eat, and yawn. Pain in those joints or the muscles around them can travel to your skull and lead to a migraine.


Many things can cause jaw pain. One possibility is that you clench your jaw or grind your teeth. When you feel stressed you might clench your jaw throughout the day. You may even grind your teeth at night while you sleep and not be aware of it.  

Signs that you clench your jaw or grind your teeth include:

  • Stress and anxiety – this is the most common cause of teeth grinding.
  • Worn-down or broken teeth, which can cause increased sensitivity and loss of teeth and fillings.
  • Face, neck and shoulder pain.
  • You have an earache, but there’s no problem with your ears.


There are a number of things you can try that may help you reduce and even prevent migraines:

  • Find ways to relax – For example, try doing breathing exercises, listening to music, meditation or yoga.  
  • Try to improve your sleep by going to bed at the same time every night, relaxing before bedtime and making sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.
  • Limit the consumption of caffeine and alcohol as well as refined sugar especially after 6pm.
  • Drink 2 to 3 litres of water per day.
  • Some patients also get relief from acupuncture, massage or seeing a chiropractor.
  • Have regular dental check-ups.


Tooth pain caused by migraine may feel similar to:

  • Wisdom tooth growth infection or impaction
  • Tooth infection
  • Sinus headache
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

Tooth infections can be serious and can lead to serious or potentially life-threatening complications, so it’s important to see a dentist right away if you have pain in your teeth or jaw. They can help rule out the mouth as the trigger for your migraine.

While there’s no one test to check for migraine, it’s possible to make a diagnosis by identifying a pattern of migraine attacks and other symptoms. At Coolangatta Dental Group, we recommend starting a migraine diary to see if you can help identify a pattern or any triggers.

Additionally, seek immediate medical attention if you experience an excruciating headache, lose vision, have uncontrollable vomiting, or if your headache lasts more than 72 hours with less than 4 hours pain-free,  


We can use custom made mouth guards, jigs or botulim toxin in the masseter muscles to help relieve the pain and damage of migraines. Remember to book an appointment with a dentist immediately after you notice the above mentioned signs- there’s no harm in being completely certain your migraines are not a result of your oral health. 

Book an appointment at any of our Coolangatta Dental practices here

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