If you suffer from headaches, it may be time to see a dentist. Although there are different types of headaches, those who suffer from tension headaches may suffer from oral health issues. To find out if your headaches may be dental-related, schedule a consultation with your dentist.

Dental Problems and Headaches

Tension headaches are often characterized by dull, non-throbbing pain. The headache may wrap around the head or it may be isolated to one side. If you suffer from regular tension headaches, they may have a dental-related origin. This is because tension headaches result from muscle strain. Dental problems, like teeth clenching or grinding, can put great stress on facial muscles, straining the muscles and causing tension headaches. 

Some signs that your tension headaches are caused by dental issues include the presence of:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Waking up with sore jaw muscles

Dental Issues that May Cause Headaches

In general, dental problems that lead to muscle straining can cause tension headaches. Facial and neck muscles are constantly at work controlling jaw movement, biting, chewing, swallowing, and other everyday oral functions. When there are issues with how these movements occur, muscle strain can develop, which may lead to tension headaches. Some dental problems that may be responsible for tension headaches include:

  • Teeth grinding:  Teeth grinding puts constant stress on the jaw muscles, which can lead to strain and tension headaches.
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder:  Temporomandibular joint disorder, TMD, is a condition in which the jaw joint doesn't function properly. Often marked by a clicking sound or locking feeling during jaw movement, TMD can strain the jaw and neck muscles. Many TMD sufferers sleep with clenched jaws, which can further strain the muscles and lead to tension headaches. 
  • Bite issues:  Issues with bite alignment can cause the jaw muscles to overcompensate for problems with alignment. This can result in muscle strain and tension headaches.
  • Missing teeth:  As with bite alignment issues, missing teeth can result in muscle strain. This is because missing teeth may change how you are able to chew, leading to tired, stressed muscles.

Dental Treatments to Alleviate Tension Headaches

If you suffer from constant headaches, they may be a result of something non-dental related so it's important to also see your general physician. However, treating tension headaches caused by dental issues begins with determining the cause of the dental problem. Some treatments that may help alleviate headaches related to dental issues include:

  • TMD treatment:  TMD treatment can help reduce strain on the jaw joint and associated muscles, which in turn can reduce the occurrence of tension headaches. Clenching the jaw while sleeping is a common aggravator of TMD symptoms. Sleeping with a custom-made mouthguard can help prevent jaw clenching and reduce TMD symptoms.
  • Teeth grinding treatment: Teeth grinding treatment can also help reduce muscle strain and reduce headaches. Similar to TMD treatment, sleeping with a custom-made mouthguard can help alleviate the symptoms associated with teeth grinding.
  • Orthodontics: Tension headaches caused by a bad bite can be alleviated with orthodontics treatment. Orthodontics corrects bite alignment, allowing the jaw to bite down more efficiently.
  • Missing tooth replacement: Replacing missing teeth can reduce muscle strain. Dental implants may be paired with dental crowns, dental bridges, or implant-supported dentures to replace individual or multiple missing teeth.
  • Meditation or relaxation methods: In some cases, muscle strain is caused by stress. Stress can lead to jaw clenching or neck straining, which may lead to tension headaches. Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or simply a quiet walk can help relieve stress and reduce muscle strain.