You might have had a headache and toothache simultaneously and you might have wondered if they are related. Yes, a toothache could trigger a headache. In an alternative way, it could also be a symptom of an underlying condition such as sinusitis or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).

Toothache Triggering a Migraine

A toothache may be caused due to several reasons like tooth decay, impacted wisdom tooth, or cracked tooth. If these conditions are left untreated, this may lead to migraines.

Migraine is a type of headache that induces throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head. It is occasionally accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Experts believe that toothaches are accompanied by migraines due to the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve helps control our facial and eye movements and sensations. The pain caused by the toothache irritates the trigeminal nerve which results in migraine.

Referred Tooth Pain to Your Head

Referred pain means the feeling of a painful sensation in a different part of your body other than the part that is causing the pain. A toothache may also “refer” to pain in your head. This is due to the many nerve connections that help connect the teeth and other facial structures to your brain.


Bruxism is a classic example of the pain caused by the referring method. It is a disorder in which a person grinds or clenches their teeth. Other symptoms include clicking in the jaw point, sore tooth and jaw muscles, and trouble opening and closing the mouth.

Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis

In rare situations, dental conditions that are left untreated may cause cavernous sinus thrombosis. This is a serious and life-threatening condition in which a blood clot forms in the cavernous space, which is a space in your brain behind your eyes. It is caused due to an infection in the head or face that spreads to your brain.

The other symptoms of cavernous sinus thrombosis include:

  • A weakness in the eye movement
  • High fever
  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Proptosis or eyeball protrusion

When To Visit Your Healthcare Provider

If you experience a different kind of headache and/or toothache, visit your healthcare provider immediately. Figuring out the cause of such pain is important. If there is still no relief, visit a headache specialist, neurologist, or ENT.


Contact Dr. Angela An, D.D.S. General Dentistry at (415) 291-8668 or schedule an appointment online to visit us at 490 Post St #1020, San Francisco, CA 94102 during our business hours.

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