The Connection Between Migraines and Dental Health: What You Need to Know


Do you suffer from migraines? If so, you may be surprised to learn that your dental health could be playing a role in their frequency and intensity. Recent studies have suggested a connection between migraines and various dental issues, including bruxism (grinding or clenching of the teeth) and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

So, how exactly are migraines and dental health related? The theory is that TMD can cause muscle tension and pain in the head, neck, and face, triggering migraine headaches. Additionally, those who grind or clench their teeth at night may experience tension headaches or migraines due to the strain placed on the muscles in the jaw and temples. By improving your dental health, you may be able to reduce the frequency or severity of your migraines.

Understanding Migraines and Their Symptoms

Migraines are a type of headache that can cause intense throbbing pain, often on one side of the head, and can last for hours or even days. In addition to the pain, migraines can come with a range of other symptoms that can make it difficult to go about your day-to-day life.

Common Migraine Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms of migraines, in addition to the pain, is sensitivity to light and sound. This means that even normal levels of lighting and sound can feel unbearable during a migraine attack. Other common symptoms include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots
  • Tingling or numbness in the face or limbs

It’s important to note that not everyone experiences all of these symptoms during a migraine attack, and the severity of each symptom can also vary from person to person.

What Causes Migraines?

There are a number of different factors that can trigger migraines, and these can vary from person to person. Some of the most common triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle
  • Certain foods, such as chocolate, cheese, and alcohol
  • Environmental factors, such as changes in weather or air pressure

In some cases, migraines can also be caused by dental issues, such as bruxism (teeth grinding) or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. In these cases, addressing the underlying dental issue may help to reduce the frequency or severity of migraine attacks.

TMJ Disorders and Migraines

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can cause migraines. This is because the TMJ connects the jaw to the skull and controls the movements of the jaw. If the TMJ isn’t functioning properly, it can lead to pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the jaw, neck, and shoulders. These symptoms can then trigger a migraine attack.

TMJ disorders can have a number of causes, such as trauma to the jaw, grinding or clenching of the teeth, misalignment of the jaw, or arthritis. If you are experiencing migraines along with jaw pain or clicking when you open your mouth, it’s important to see a dentist who specializes in TMJ disorders.

The good news is that there are several treatments available for TMJ disorders that can reduce or eliminate migraines. These include mouthguards to prevent teeth grinding, physical therapy to strengthen the jaw muscles, and in severe cases, surgery to realign the jaw. Your dentist will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.

Dental Crowns and Migraines

Dental crowns can also be linked to migraines. A dental crown is a cap that is placed over a damaged or decayed tooth to restore its shape and function. However, if a crown doesn’t fit properly, it can put pressure on the surrounding teeth and gums, leading to headaches and migraines.

If you are experiencing migraines after getting a dental crown, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist can examine the crown and determine if it needs to be adjusted or replaced to alleviate your symptoms.

It’s also important to choose a dentist who is experienced in fitting dental crowns and uses the latest technology to ensure a precise fit. This can help prevent headaches and migraines caused by improperly fitting crowns.

In some cases, migraines may be caused by a combination of TMJ disorders and improperly fitting dental crowns. If you are experiencing migraines along with jaw pain or dental discomfort, it’s important to see a dentist who can evaluate and treat both issues.

Importance of Proper Oral Hygiene in Preventing Migraines

It is fascinating to know that there is a distinct connection between dental health and migraines. Dental problems, like jaw clenching, teeth grinding, or misaligned bite, can lead to jaw muscle tension, which in turn triggers migraines. One way to maintain good oral health is to adopt a regular oral hygiene routine by brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily.

Brushing eliminates bacteria that cause inflammation and tooth decay, which can lead to gum problems and jaw pain. Flossing removes food particles from hard-to-reach places between teeth, preventing bacterial buildup that may cause bad breath and gum disease. Regular dental check-ups can also identify any underlying dental problems early on and help prevent migraines from occurring in the first place.

Migraine Prevention Techniques

While maintaining good oral hygiene is essential, there are additional measures you can take to prevent migraines:

Relaxation Exercises

Migraines can be triggered by stress and anxiety. Relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or listening to calming music, can help reduce stress and lower your risk of experiencing migraines.

Stress Reduction Techniques

Stress can lead to teeth grinding or clenching, which can exacerbate migraines. Finding ways to reduce stress, such as seeing a therapist, practicing self-care, or taking a break when things get overwhelming, can help prevent migraines caused by tension in the jaw muscles.

Dietary Changes

Some foods can trigger migraines, like chocolate, cheese, caffeine, and alcohol. Keeping a food diary and identifying your trigger foods can help prevent migraines from occurring. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can also help reduce the risk of migraines caused by inflammation or nutrient deficiencies.

By adopting these techniques, practicing good oral hygiene, and seeking professional dental care, you can help prevent migraines and ensure optimal dental health.

When to Seek Medical Care for Migraines

While most migraines can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication and self-care, there are times when you should seek medical care immediately. Here are some warning signs that indicate you need emergency medical attention:

Vision Changes

If you experience sudden vision changes, such as seeing flashing lights, blind spots or zigzag patterns, this may be a symptom of a type of migraine called a visual migraine. Though these migraines are usually harmless, a sudden onset of these migraine symptoms can also indicate a more serious condition, which requires immediate medical attention.

Severe Head Pain

While migraines typically cause moderate to severe head pain, sudden and intense head pain that worsens rapidly can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a brain aneurysm. If your headache pain is accompanied by a stiff neck, fever or scalp tenderness, call 911 or seek urgent medical care right away.

If your headache pain is different from your usual migraines or is accompanied by any of the symptoms described above, do not hesitate to seek medical care immediately. Prompt medical attention can help diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your symptoms, which can help prevent further complications.

Alternative Treatments for Migraines

While over-the-counter and prescription migraine medications can be effective, they are not always well tolerated and may have side effects. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments available that can help alleviate migraine symptoms, including:


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. This therapy has been found to be effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines, as well as reducing the use of pain medications.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help reduce tension in the neck and shoulders, which can trigger migraines. Regular massage sessions have been found to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care involves the manual manipulation of the spine to reduce tension in the muscles and improve mobility. This therapy can be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.

If you suffer from migraines, you may consider trying one or more of these alternative therapies in consultation with your healthcare provider. While they may not work for everyone, they are usually safe and may provide a natural alternative to medication.

The Link Between Dental Health and Migraines

Understanding the connection between dental health and migraines may come as a surprise to many people. However, studies show that there is a definite link between the two. Poor dental hygiene and oral issues such as bruxism, tooth decay, and gum disease can lead to the onset or worsening of migraines.

By maintaining good dental health habits such as regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups, you can minimize your chances of experiencing migraines. Additionally, it’s important to address any dental issues that you may be experiencing to avoid triggering or exacerbating migraines. Taking care of your oral health can go a long way toward preventing migraines, so don’t neglect your dental health.

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