Why Are My Wisdom Teeth Giving Me a Headache?

by | Feb 9, 2024 | General Orthodontics, Orthodontic Treatments, tooth sensitivity | 0 comments

When wisdom teeth decide to make their grand entrance, they bring along some uninvited guests: headaches.

These late-arriving molars, often lacking the space to comfortably join the rest of your teeth, stir up troubles galore.

From creating jaw stiffness to causing discomfort that radiates to your head, wisdom teeth can be the hidden culprits behind those persistent headaches.

Understanding the link between your emerging wisdom teeth and the headaches they cause leads to pain relief and a greater understanding of how oral health impacts our overall well-being.

 

Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches?

Woman with wisdom tooth pain

Wisdom teeth often lack the space to grow properly, ending up pushing against other teeth.

This pushing doesn’t just make for an awkward teeth party; it creates tension. Imagine it like a small, persistent force pressing on your teeth and jaws all day.

This added pressure can lead to tension headaches, which feel like a tight band wrapped around your head—not the most pleasant sensation!

Sometimes, wisdom teeth grow in wonky directions or emerge only partially, a condition known as impaction.

Impacted wisdom teeth can irritate your gums, leading to swelling and pain that doesn’t just stay put in your mouth. Eventually, the latter travels through the body, triggering headaches.

When your wisdom teeth are the troublemakers behind your headaches, you’ll likely notice the pain more in the mornings.

Why?

Because while you sleep, you will grind your teeth or clench your jaw more, thanks to the irritation caused by these teeth. This grinding increases the tension in your jaw, which, in turn, will trigger headaches.

 

5 Types of Headaches Caused by Wisdom Teeth

Types of Headaches Caused by Wisdom Teeth

  • Tension Headaches: The most common headaches linked to wisdom teeth. As these molars push and shove for space, they cause tension in the jaw, which then radiates to the head, leading to dull, aching pain.
  • Migraines: Sometimes, the stress and pain caused by wisdom teeth trigger severe migraines. These are not your average headaches; they come with intense, throbbing pain, often on one side of the head. Migraines also bring sensitivity to light and noise and, sometimes, even nausea.
  • Cluster Headaches: While less common, cluster headaches are defined by severe burning and piercing pain that can wake you up at night. They usually occur around or behind one eye or on one side of the face at a time.
  • Sinus Headaches: When wisdom teeth mess with your upper jaw, they may cause pressure and pain in your sinuses. This headache feels like pressure and fullness around your cheeks, eyes, and forehead, often worsening when you bend forward or lie down.
  • Referred Pain Headaches: Sometimes, the pain from wisdom teeth doesn’t just stay put in the jaw; it travels (or is referred) to other areas of the head, causing more generalized headache pain.

 

7 Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Headaches

Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Headaches

  • Food-Caused Headache Pain: Chewing turns into a trigger for headaches, especially when those wisdom teeth are acting up.
  • Gum Swelling: This is a red flag waving from your gums, signaling that something might not be right with your wisdom teeth.
  • Headache Accompanied by Earache: This duo of discomfort occurs when the pain from your jaw area decides to travel and gives your ears a hard time.
  • Neck Pain: It’s not just your jaw that’s under siege; your neck muscles join the party, too, leading to an achy neck.
  • Pain When Opening Your Mouth Wide: Yawning or opening wide to bite your sandwich shouldn’t be painful. But with wisdom teeth issues, it can turn into an ouch moment.
  • Tension in the Jaw: It’s like your jaw muscles never get a break, thanks to the pressure from those wisdom teeth.
  • Tingling or Numbness in the Face: Sometimes, wisdom teeth irritate the nerves in your jaw, leading to a sensation of tingling or numbness in your face.

 

8 Ways to Soothe Wisdom Teeth Headache Pain

How to Soothe Wisdom Teeth Headache Pain

Battling headaches caused by wisdom teeth feels like navigating a maze.

Fortunately, we have several strategies to help you soothe the discomfort!

Here are 8 effective ways to tackle wisdom teeth headaches:

  • Avoid Extreme Jaw Movements: Keeping yawns and wide bites to a minimum stops the pain from aggravating.
  • Proper Oral Hygiene: Keeping your mouth clean is vital. Brush and floss carefully around the affected area to prevent additional infection or irritation.
  • Hot and Cold Therapy: Hot and cold therapy is a real game-changer regarding soothing headaches caused by wisdom teeth. The cold part of the therapy reduces swelling and numbs the discomfort. On the flip side, heat relaxes tense jaw muscles and improves blood flow. Together, they offer a one-two punch in the fight against wisdom teeth headaches.
  • Massage: Gently massaging the jaw and neck area relaxes the muscles.
  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, fight off the pain while reducing inflammation.
  • Salt Water Rinse: Swishing with warm salt water feels like a gentle wave washing over your gums, minimizing swelling and easing discomfort.
  • Soft Foods: Sticking to soft foods is always recommended when your wisdom teeth are causing trouble. Think of it as giving your jaw a break from the heavy lifting of chewing tough foods.
  • See a Dentist: If the pain persists, it’s time to consult the experts. Your dentist will provide specific advice and treatment options, possibly even removing the wisdom teeth if they’re the root cause of your headaches.

 

Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Address Headaches?

Woman with wisdom tooth headache

Wisdom tooth extraction surgery is a procedure where an oral surgeon removes those late-arriving molars, often because they’re causing trouble.

If your headaches are directly linked to discomfort caused by wisdom teeth—jaw tension, gum irritation, or crowding—then wisdom tooth extraction might be the ticket to relief.

When your wisdom teeth are removed, the pressure on your jaw and surrounding teeth gets lifted. It’s like removing a weight off your shoulders, or in this case, your jaws. 

If your headaches are due to this pressure, they will decrease or even disappear after the wisdom teeth are extracted.

However, not all headaches are attributed to wisdom teeth.

Sometimes, headaches have other causes, like stress, diet, or environmental factors.

If these are the culprits, removing your wisdom teeth will not make a big difference in your headaches.

 

Headaches and Wisdom Teeth: Unraveling the Molar Mystery!

Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if orthodontic care is the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic care or have questions about the process, use our live chat, call (240) 802-7217, or message us through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary consultation!

Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Hollywood, Wildewood, or Leonardtown and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Maryland, don’t hesitate to visit our office!

We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining your perfect smile, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!

 

References

  1. “10 Signs That Your Headaches May Be Caused by Wisdom Teeth – Smiles by Design San Diego.” 10 Signs That Your Headaches May Be Caused by Wisdom Teeth – Smiles By Design San Diego, www.sbdsd.com/blog/can-wisdom-teeth-cause-headaches. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.
  2. “Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches?” Bright Smile Dental Powell, brightsmilepowell.com/can-wisdom-teeth-cause-headaches/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.
  3. “Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches?” Lane & Associates, lanedds.com/can-wisdom-teeth-cause-headaches/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.
  4. “Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches? Get Rid of Migraines!” Dr. Syed Quadri, Dr.Quadri, drquadri.com/can-wisdom-teeth-cause-headaches/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.
  5. “Wisdom Teeth and Migraine: Links and More.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/wisdom-teeth-migraine. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.

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