Identifying The Cause When Pain Strikes: Dental Or Something Else?

Posted on: 1 August 2019


The nerve system that runs through the head area is complex and vast. The head, mouth, nose, and everything else above the shoulders contain many more tiny blood vessels and nerves than anywhere else in the body. This, unfortunately, can mean an increased sensitivity to pain. When your tooth hurts, the pain could be caused by something other than a bad tooth. On the other hand, when your head hurts it might actually be traced to your mouth. To help you understand more about identifying the cause of the discomfort in your head, read on.

When Aching Teeth are Only a Symptom and Not the Cause

Your teeth could be innocent bystanders to pain caused by something else:

  1. Sinus Issues — The sinus cavity extends to your upper jaw area. When your upper teeth feel like they are aching, it might actually be your sinuses. Sinus infections can be identified by fever, pressure in the face and ears, alternating drainage and congestion, and fatigue.
  2. Temporomandibular joint disorder — The pain from this disorder can appear to be coming from your tooth but it may actually be an issue with your jaw.
  3. Trigeminal neuralgia — The nerve by the same name can become inflamed with this condition, making it feel just like tooth pain.

When an Aching Head Can be Blamed on a Dental Problem

In some cases, your headache is more than likely caused by a dental disorder.

  1. Bruxism — When your entire head hurts and your jaw aches, you might have a tension headache or you might tend to grind your teeth while sleeping. Alert your dentist so they can look for further signs of bruxism and treat it using a mouthguard.
  2. Cavities and abscesses — These very common dental disorders can also trigger a generalized feeling of pain in the head and can even trigger migraines. Underlying dental problems could travel to other areas in your head via a cranial nerve. Additionally, referred pain from a bad tooth can make pain appear in areas away from your mouth. Most often, the many nerves that connect your head and mouth areas carry the sensation of pain to other areas.
  3. Life-threatening dental disorders — An untreated infection in your mouth could do more than cause pain — it could endanger your life. Cavernous sinus thrombosis, though rare, can cause intense pain throughout the head area must be treated immediately.

It's important to pay attention when your body is trying to tell you something. It can be difficult to trace the root cause of head pain but seeing your dentist is sure to rule out dental problems. Visit your family dentist to learn more about taking care of your teeth.