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What Your Headaches May Be Telling You About Your Oral Health

Experts estimate that close to half of the adults in the world had a headache at least once in the last year. Many of those headaches may have been due to oral health issues.

The dentists at Santa Monica Bay Dental see many patients who don’t realize their headaches are likely due to a dental problem. Several different issues can lead to headaches and even trigger migraines. In this post we look at some of the common oral health problems that are associated with headaches and migraines.


You have two temporomandibular joints (TMJs), one on each side of your jaw. These important joints hinge your jaw to your skull. It’s the reason you can open and close your mouth. When you have a TMJ disorder, you may have an aching jaw, pain in your shoulder and neck, ringing in your ears, or frequent headaches.

Alignment problems

When your dentist talks about how your teeth align, they mean the way your top teeth and your bottom teeth come together. Some alignment issues are a product of genetics, and others develop over time. Loose or missing teeth, a toothache, and other issues can cause your bite to change.

The muscles in your jaw have to work harder, and along with potentially causing headaches, misalignment can cause cracks in your teeth and make it more difficult to practice proper hygiene.

Tooth decay

A cavity or infection in your teeth can certainly cause a headache or even trigger a migraine. Not all cavities hurt, and some don’t cause pain in your tooth but can bring about frequent headaches. Taking care of the cavity with a filling, or if necessary a root canal, can save your tooth and perhaps stop your headaches.


Bruxism is the medical name for tooth grinding. Clenching your jaw when you’re stressed or grinding your teeth in your sleep can cause headaches. You may not even realize you have bruxism. We can see signs of it, though, and can help you with a mouthguard designed to prevent teeth grinding.

Tell us what’s going on

When you come in for your next regular dental exam or routine cleaning, let our staff know if you’ve been having headaches. You may not connect your headaches with your dental health, but we may be able to help. We can identify potential problems easier if we know that you’re experiencing headache as a symptom.

If you suspect that your headaches may be related to your oral health, schedule an appointment today with Santa Monica Dental in Santa Monica, California. Our talented staff can answer your questions and provide an exam that could hold the answer to alleviating your headaches.