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Migraine & Poor Oral Hygiene – The Connection

Migraine & Poor Oral Hygiene – The Connection

ME: Time to get things done today.

Migraine: Don’t think so, you are all mine!

It is said that the best laid plans are made to be broken with a migraine. Each time you get a migraine attack, it wipes out several hours (days maybe) from your life.

Migraine is a neurological disorder which involves nerve pathways and brain chemicals. There are specific triggers that increase the risk of having a migraine attack. Bright and flashy lights, allergies, noise, hormonal fluctuations, certain scent, food, lack of sleep or stress can be a few to name. Migraines can also be triggered by dental issues.


Migraine symptoms can be different for everyone. It generally occurs in three stages.

Prodrome Hours before the attack they might experience nausea, dizziness and vomiting. The possible culprit is the abrupt changes in the brain chemistry that affects the brain vomiting center.

Aura These symptoms occur from the nervous system and mostly involve vision. Most of them who have chronic attacks are sensitive to light. This is called photophobia. During this period, one might see flashes of light, jagged lines, unable to speak clearly, notice changes in taste or smell and sometimes a ringing in the ears.

Ever heard of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS)? This involves changes in parts of the brain that deal with sensory information. Straight lines may look wavy, things might seem to move, 3D images may seem to appear flat, colours seem to be extra bright, and things might change colours or even tilt to the side.

Attack Often migraine begins as a dull ache and grows into a throbbing pain which usually gets worse during physical activity. One might also experience the pain moving from one side of the head towards another or it can also be felt like it’s affecting the entire head.


Researches mention that oral health issues can cause or aggravate migraines and treating oral health issues can help resolve migraines. The main reason being that both toothaches and headaches are transmitted through the trigeminal nerve which innvervates the face.

For instance; loose or missing teeth can make the jaw muscles work harder making it difficult to swallow or close the mouth. This may result in chronic muscular inflammation and result in migraines. Our oral cavity and gut generally contains nitrate reducing microbes that help in promoting heart health by increasing blood flow to the heart and reducing blood pressure. If these microbes are present in higher levels than normal, they may cause migraine.

Oral bacteria and migraines You might be familiar with the mouth – body connection. When we eat, nutrition from the food is absorbed by the bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria break down the nutrients into digestible components. Consuming food high in nitrates increases the blood flow by dilating the blood vessels and for those who are prone to migraine may experience severe headaches.

Periodontitis People suffering from periodontitis are at a higher risk of migraine since the gingival tissue gets destroyed resulting in tooth loss. 

Teeth Grinding Also known as bruxism, this issue affects roughly 30 to 40% of the people. This can cause muscle and gum irritation which may result in migraines and headaches. Tight jaw, teeth pain, cracked teeth and morning headaches are a few symptoms.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) This occurs when the ball which connects the lower and upper jaw does not function properly. This causes pain in the jaw and difficulty in controlling the jaw movement. TMJ may also cause severe migraine or headaches.  You have two TMJs that connect the sides of your jaws to the skull. They help to open and close the mouth when talking, eating and yawning. Pain that starts in these joints can travel around the skull leading to a migraine. Also if there is a teeth missing the jaw muscles might have to work harder to bring the upper and lower teeth together which can be painful over the time.  

 Wisdom teeth The last of the adult teeth, wisdom teeth may trigger migraines and headaches. Extraction of the teeth provides relief to some people while for some other people medications might help.

Toothaches These are generally linked with common oral health issues like tooth decay, misaligned teeth or gum disease. Pain starts near the gum, jaws or teeth and may cause migraines by irritating the trigeminal nerve.


  • Brush twice daily. Do not go to bed without brushing your teeth. Choose a Toothpaste with ingredients that would support your oral health.
  • Brush properly. How you do is equally important. Take time and brush in gentle circular motions.
  • Floss regularly. It is as important as brushing.
  • Rinse with a
  • Drink lot of water. This helps to flush out the food particles stuck in the oral cavity.
  • Limit the intake of sugary food items.
  • Add crunchy fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Have a dental checkup regularly.


“Chronic migraine headache and multiple dental pathologies causing cranial pain for 35 years: the neurodental nexus”, Antonio Jose Reyes1, Kanterpersad Ramcharan2 and Rajesh Maharaj3, 10.1136/bcr-2019-230248