Wellness + Nutrition

Readers ask, we answer

Emma asks:

"What's the source of my headache?

Have a question you’d like us to answer? Send it to grin@deltadental.com, and it could be featured in an upcoming issue.

Hi, Emma! Your headache — even a migraine — may actually be caused by an issue in your mouth. Here’s a look at how they're connected.

1. Teeth grinding

You may grind or clench your teeth during the day or night if you're stressed, upset or frustrated. This condition, called “bruxism,” can trigger headaches, damage teeth and lead to pain in your face or jaw.

Exercise and meditation may help calm uneasy feelings and reduce stress if that is causing you to grind your teeth. You may need to wear a mouth guard at night to relieve symptoms.

2. Teeth and jaw alignment

Headaches and migraines can stem from your teeth or jaw not being aligned properly. The misalignment leads to muscle strain.

Crowns, braces or oral surgery may help correct your bite. Your dentist can determine the best treatment.

3. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain

Your TMJ connects your jaw and skull — and allows you to talk, laugh and chew. Jaw pain starts in the joint, then travels to your head and neck. Problems with this joint and surrounding muscles, including headaches, have been reported in almost half of the nation’s population.1 TMJ disorders can also trigger migraines.

Your dentist or physician can diagnose the problem. Stress, anxiety or depression could be the source of TMJ disorders or migraines. Avoid nibbling on your nails or any other objects such as pencils, which can cause TMJ pain.

4. Tooth decay

Toothaches stemming from cavities, tooth infections and gum disease can also cause headaches. Pain in one part of the trigeminal nerve — the head’s largest sensory nerve — can trigger pain elsewhere.

Reduce your risk of cavities by maintaining a good oral health routine of brushing and flossing daily, making healthy food and beverage choices, and visiting the dentist regularly.

At your next appointment, let your dentist know you’re experiencing frequent headaches. Your dentist can help diagnose whether an oral health problem is at the root of the issue.