Can a Migraine Cause Tooth Pain?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Migraine attacks often cause intense pain in one or more parts of the head, including around the scalp, and behind the eyes and cheeks.

But they can also cause pain in the ear and jaw. If you’ve been experiencing tooth pain with no apparent dental causes, it’s possible migraine might be to blame.

Tooth pain caused by migraine

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While most migraines concentrate pain on the upper parts of the head and face, it’s also possible to feel pain below these points.

It’s less common for a migraine to affect the middle of the face, but some experience a migraine attack that feels like pain in their teeth. The medical term for this condition is neurovascular orofacial pain.

How can a migraine affect your teeth? While the exact cause of migraine isn’t yet known, experts suspect that they’re caused by abnormal brain activity that interferes with the function of the blood vessels, chemicals, and nerve signals in the brain. The pain that results may actually radiate into the teeth.

How do you treat tooth pain caused by migraine?

Tooth pain caused by migraine is treated by addressing migraine — not the teeth.

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There isn’t yet a cure for migraine. However, there are several treatment options available that can help reduce your pain and reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraine attacks.

To ease symptoms of migraine, you might try:

  • taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, at the first signs of a migraine attack
  • lying or sleeping in a darkened room
  • eating something
  • allowing yourself to get sick if you feel nauseous
  • taking prescription medications made to treat migraines, such as triptans
  • taking prescription anti- sickness medications (anti-emetics)
  • receiving acupuncture, which is commonly used in Chinese medicine to treat pain
  • receiving transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is administered by healthcare professionals

Can home remedies help?

Some people find that home remedies can help alleviate migraine symptoms or prevent migraine attacks from happening. Some of these remedies involve:

  • drinking water
  • taking a magnesium supplement
  • limiting your consumption of alcohol
  • making sure you get sufficient sleep

What are the other symptoms?

Migraine may also cause:

  • throbbing
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweating
  • gastrointestinal distress like diarrhea
  • sensitivity to light
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Migraine may only affect one side of the head, or one part of the face, and sometimes the neck.

About 1 in 3 people who experience migraine see visual auras like flashing lights or blind spots, which occur right before a migraine hits. These auras may also cause numbness and dizziness, difficulty speaking, and rarely, a loss of consciousness.

Symptoms of migraine may occur in episodes (for brief periods) or they can be chronic (occurring over longer periods of time). Most commonly, symptoms last between 4 hours and 3 days. However, migraine attacks can cause tiredness for a week or so after they strike.

When should you talk with a professional?

Tooth pain caused by migraine may feel similar to:

  • wisdom tooth growth or impaction
  • a tooth infection
  • a sinus headache
  • temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
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Tooth infections can be serious, so it’s important to see a dentist right away for intense pain in your teeth. This is especially important if it’s not accompanied by other symptoms in your mouth, like redness or swelling.

If your dentist can’t find anything wrong in your mouth, they may recommend that you see a primary care doctor or neurologist. A neurologist is a brain specialist who can help screen you for migraine.

While there’s no one test to check for migraine, it’s possible to make a diagnosis by identifying a pattern of migraine attacks that occur along with pain and other symptoms.

The bottom line

Migraine attacks are intense headaches that can cause pain in one or more parts of the head or face. Migraine may be episodic or chronic, and they’re often accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light. Sometimes, the sensation of migraine pain can affect the middle part of the face, radiating into the teeth.

If you’re experiencing unexplainable tooth pain, you should first schedule an appointment with your dentist to check for any signs of tooth problems.

However, if you’re prone to migraine episodes, you may want to also contact a doctor. While migraine can’t be cured, the symptoms — including tooth pain — can be managed.

Read more on: migraine, pain


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