What Can Cause a Dental Headache?

Dental headaches

When you have a bad headache, what can be done about it? If you call your primary physician, their response might be, “Take two aspirin and call me tomorrow.” Your doctor may be right, as a simple head throb is typically the result of stress, too much food, too much alcohol intake, lack of sleep or too much work with little relaxation. But your dentist may see a headache as more than just the result of you overextending yourself in life endeavors.

What can cause a dental headache?

Dental headaches are caused by overextending the central nerve of the head, called the trigeminal nerve, which runs through the face, jaw, scalp and teeth. Some causes of overextension of this central nerve might be from such dental conditions as malocclusion. Malocclusion is the result of a bad bite due to misalignment of the teeth, causing the jaw to work harder than necessary when chewing, which triggers that trigeminal nerve to react with a throbbing pain. Another cause for a dental headache is in the treatment for malocclusion. The orthodontic brace used to straighten teeth, composed of metal wire, brackets and elastic, can get too tight and requires adjusting the brace’s tension.

Dental headaches can also be the beginnings of a decayed tooth. Pain in one area of face can be felt in another part by that trigeminal nerve, as it runs through the face and jaw. The mouth and the head muscles are interconnected, and the stresses that get put on teeth just might show up in the head rather than the mouth, jaw or cheek. This is called referred pain.

A dental headache can also be a symptom of such dental disorders as bruxism, or teeth grinding, which puts the muscles of the face through quite a workout. Bruxism usually occurs while asleep, and the person is usually not even aware of such grinding.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is the disorder of the mandible joint of the lower jaw. When the lower jaw is overworked or injured (stressed) by medical conditions such as arthritis or physical trauma, the jaw sends pain signals to that central nerve in the head. TMJ can also be triggered by excessive gum chewing, eating crunchy foods, or having to hold your mouth open for too long while in the dental chair.

What can be done about a dental headache? First take an aspirin for basic pain relief, and in the morning, pay a visit to your friendly and knowledgeable dentist for an evaluation of your mouth and teeth.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Campbell Smile, request an appointment in our Campbell dental office here: https://www.campbellsmile.com. Or call us at (408) 379-0851.

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