The Link Between Toothaches And Headaches

The Link Between Toothaches And Headaches

Often, what causes a person to seek out dental services is dental pain. A toothache can start as a small, nagging pain, but if it is ignored for too long, the discomfort can become more intense and trigger a headache.

Dr. Taylor—our dentist here at Taylor General & Cosmetic Dentistry—is often asked about why toothaches cause headaches. The short answer is that toothaches trigger headaches due to a cranial nerve connection. However, the long answer is a little more complicated.

What Causes Toothaches To Trigger Headaches

Toothaches can be caused by a number of dental issues, such as a cavity, an impacted tooth, cracked or chipped teeth, an abscess, and other oral health problems. Since most of these issues don’t come with visible signs, the pain of the toothache is one of the few noticeable indicators that something is wrong.

Now, for how the pain of your toothache causes a headache. There are twelve cranial nerves, and the nerve that senses how the majority of your face feels—gums, lips, and teeth—is called the trigeminal nerve.

This nerve has branches all over your teeth, lips, and gums, so when you have a dental problem causing pain, the trigeminal nerve sends that painful sensation information to your brain.

Dental Problems Referring Pain To The Head

This transmission of pain is also called referred pain. While there is no pain point in your head that triggers the headache, the pain of your toothache can create the sensation of pain.

In fact, you may not notice the toothache if you are dealing with a sufficiently painful migraine. Some people end up going to their primary care physician about migraines and tension headaches when the issue really is a problem with their oral health.

Another example of referred pain would be headaches triggered by bruxism and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Bruxism is when you clench your jaw or grind your teeth without actively meaning to do it. Often, bruxism occurs in your sleep, and you may wake up with a sore jaw, aching teeth, and a headache.

With TMJ, the issue is generally caused by an issue with your jaw joint as well as the surrounding muscles. Along with causing toothaches, TMJ can make the area around your jaw joint, ear, neck, and temple ache. This aching pain can trigger headaches, tension headaches, and migraines.

Ways You Can Prevent Headache-Causing Dental Issues

Naturally, if you have a cavity, abscess, impacted teeth, or other issues that are triggering headaches, you will need to have them addressed by Dr. Taylor. That way, you can start to heal and not be plagued by dental pain and potentially migraines.

On top of having the immediate dental problems taken care of, there are other ways you can

  • Have regular dental cleanings – By having regular, biannual dental cleanings, you can protect yourself from future headaches brought on by toothaches. Our staff will be able to detect problem areas, and Dr. Taylor can advise you on treatments to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Consider a custom nightguard – If you struggle with bruxism, you can prevent the morning headaches caused by teeth grinding and clenching with a custom-made nightguard. As a custom nightguard is made by Dr. Taylor taking an impression of your teeth, the guard will fit you excellently and help protect your teeth from grinding and clenching.
  • Focus on optimal oral care – Taking care of your daily oral care is one of the best things you can do to prevent future toothaches. Brushing your teeth at least once in the morning and at night, as well as flossing once a day can help maintain your oral health. You may also want to consider using a mouthwash that helps eliminate bacteria.
  • Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth – Should you have sensitive teeth that trigger headaches, you may want to ask Dr. Taylor about what toothpaste for sensitive teeth would be best for you. That way, you can enjoy things like ice cream or hot soup without your teeth hurt.

If you are having dental troubles and want compassionate, expert care to help you manage your oral health, then you should contact us for an appointment. No matter what shape your teeth are in, Dr. Taylor will help get you back on track.

Direct From The Dentist: What Too Much Soda Does To Your Teeth

Most people are aware that soda isn’t the best for your overall health. Not only is soda linked to type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and obesity, but did you know that it can have a severe impact on your teeth? Well, your friendly local dentist at Taylor Cosmetic Dental is here to tell you all about how too much soda affects your teeth.

How Soda Interacts With Your Teeth And Mouth

Before we jump right in, let’s lay some groundwork information. First, there are hundreds of types of bacteria which live in your mouth. A lot of this bacteria is helpful and assists in breaking down your food and helps clean your mouth to a certain extent. However, there are harmful bacteria that come to eat leftover food particles, especially sugar, and that bacteria excrete acid that wears down the enamel of your teeth.

So, you already have acid being created in your mouth by these bacteria, then you add soda. All types of soda, both full sugar as well as sugar-free soda, have their own acid. The acid from the soda adds to the wear and tear that the bacteria starts, leading to significant dental damage. Also, as the sugar in soda interacts with the bacteria in your mouth, it creates another type of acid which can hurt your teeth.

Also, you may think, “Well, I’ll just use a straw! Then the soda won’t hit my teeth.” While it’s not a bad thought, it doesn’t really work that way. Since the straw doesn’t go from your cup to your throat, some of the soda will interact with your teeth, especially your back molars.

What Soda Does To Your Teeth

Okay, now that you have a clear idea about how soda and bacteria produce acid that harms your teeth, let’s talk about exactly what kind of damage we are talking about.

Soda erodes your teeth – The outer layer of your teeth is covered in enamel, a hard protective layer for the sensitive dentin and nerves below. When you drink soda, you are giving your enamel an acid bath, which slowly erodes the protective enamel.

Soda strongly contributes to cavities – The wear and tear on your teeth don’t stop at the enamel. As soda erodes the protective enamel of your teeth, the acid can make its way down to the next layer, which is the dentin. Once these openings in your teeth are made, cavities are a natural result, and you will need our dentist’s services to resolve the cavities and other issues that can arise.

Ways To Prevent Dental Damage From Soda

There are several ways you can prevent soda from damaging your teeth. Below are some of the top things that our dentist Dr. Taylor recommends:

  • Lower soda consumption – Moderation in all things, especially your soda consumption, can significantly help your teeth. Do your best to stick to one soda a day to help give your teeth a break from the sugar and acid bath that comes with soda.
  • Rinse with water – Immediately after you finish a soda, rinse your mouth out by drinking water. The neutral quality of water can help lessen the impact of your soda and help wash away the acid and sugar. In fact, if you can keep water handy to sip on after drinking a soda, you can also prevent getting up for another soda.
  • Stick to scheduled dental cleanings – If you are a regular soda drinker, then it is even more important that you come into our dental office for your biannual dental cleaning. That way, any issues which crop up can be caught early before they become a big issue.
  • Don’t sip soda – As you drink your soda, don’t slowly sip on it. By sipping soda over the course of an hour or more, you are constantly bathing your teeth in acid and sugar, inviting more bacteria and acid to build up and damage your teeth. So, if you are going to drink soda, do it quickly.
  • Use a straw – While we did say using a straw won’t protect you completely, it does offer some protection at least for your front teeth. By using a straw, you can minimize how much of your teeth come in contact with the corrosive soda acid.
  • Avoid soda before bed – Drinking soda before bed is probably one of the more harmful ways to consume soda since the acid will sit on your teeth as you sleep. So, if you want something to drink by your bedside, stick to water.
  • Wait to brush teeth – It may seem counterintuitive, but you shouldn’t brush your teeth right after drinking soda. With the soda acid on your teeth, your teeth are more vulnerable, and the bristles of your toothbrush can create harmful friction against your teeth, leading to more damage. It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour after drinking soda before brushing your teeth.

If you are prepared to come in for your dental cleaning and have your teeth checked by Dr. Taylor, contact us. We are ready to help you reach your healthiest and ideal smile!

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT:406.652.9204