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Dental Problems May Trigger Migraines


Young man suffering from migraine headaches and dental pain

A migraine is no mere headache. Only migraine sufferers themselves truly understand how debilitating the condition is. If you also get migraines, then you’ll do anything to avoid a trigger.

Each migraine sufferer has their unique triggers. Yours may be connected to strong smells, bright lights, or high stress levels. But did you know that your teeth could also trigger a painful migraine episode?

Toothaches and Migraine

A toothache can cause a headache for just about anyone, but it’s so much worse for migraine sufferers. The inflammation, swelling, and discomfort that comes from a cracked, decayed, or abscessed tooth can trigger a migraine that lasts for hours or even days.

Sometimes, migraines sufferers mistake a toothache for just another symptom of their migraine. The opposite is also true; some patients have been treated for mysterious toothaches that ended up being a kind of migraine pain.

Take a proactive approach. Treat tooth pain before it has the chance to worsen or trigger a migraine. Get a suspicious tooth examined as soon as possible. Head off problems before they start by having preventative treatments to keep your teeth healthy.

Migraine Caused by TMJ

You have two temporomandibular joints (collectively called the TMJ) located on either side of your head right in front of each ear. They’re complex joints with lots of moving parts that you use constantly to speak, yawn, and chew. If you overwork these joints, you can cause inflammation in them which can trigger migraine.

Subconscious teeth-grinding or teeth-clenching is a major contributor to jaw pain and migraine. This habit tightens cheek muscles and puts a strain on the TMJ. Grinding can also cause sore tooth roots, worn or cracked enamel, loosened dental restorations, and tooth sensitivity, all of which could trigger migraine.

The key is to keep your jaw relaxed to avoid migraine. Take small bites of food, practice relaxation techniques, avoid frequent gum chewing, and use dental devices that prevent excessive jaw strain.

Prevent Migraines at the Dental Office

You might dread your six-month dental checkup and cleaning since the dental office is full of migraine-triggering stimuli.

Tacoma general dentist Dr. Duke Bui recommends the following tips to keep your appointments comfortable:

  • Wear an eye mask or dark-tinted sunglasses to block out glare and bright lights

  • Bring ear plugs or ear buds to play soothing music to block out harsh noises

  • Dress in warm layers

  • Schedule appointments for early in the day

  • Support your head with a small comfortable neck pillow

  • Use a dab of Vicks or an essential oil under your nose to distract you from nauseating odors

How Migraines Affect Your Oral Health

If you regularly suffer from migraines, then your teeth suffer, too.

Frequent vomiting due to migraine can lead to enamel erosion. This, in turn, makes teeth prone to sensitivity and decay.

Migraine can make you far too miserable to tend to your normal hygiene routine. When plagued by a lengthy attack, you might even go a couple days at a time without brushing your teeth.

Migraine medications can cause dry mouth that leads to a host of oral health issues such as gum disease. Migraine sufferers are already at an increased risk for heart disease. Contracting a gum infection can worsen that risk.

Get professional help with managing your oral health despite suffering from migraines. The dental team at Duke Bui, DDS, PS - Family Dentistry has the tips and treatments you need to make sure your teeth stay healthy.

Don’t let migraine ruin your smile! And don’t let dental woes become triggers for migraine. Call Dr. Bui today to schedule a relaxed consultation to learn how you can keep your smile beautiful, healthy, and comfortable.

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