Wisdom teeth and migraine: Links and more

Growing wisdom teeth may cause pressure in and around the jaw. For certain people, added pressure or muscle strain in this area may cause or worsen migraine.

Most people develop wisdom teeth in their late teens or early twenties, and some — even later in life. Growing wisdom teeth can cause pain, infection, or swelling in the gums. The added pressure or strain due to these developing teeth may lead to or increase the severity of migraine.

Migraine is a type of headache that happens repeatedly and involves pulsing or throbbing pain. Approximately 12% of people in the United States report experiencing migraine.

This article discusses wisdom teeth and their possible connection with migraine. It also outlines available treatment options.

Orofacial pain refers to pain around the face, neck, head, or mouth. In certain instances, people may mistake orofacial pain for migraine headaches.

However, when wisdom teeth begin to grow, they can cause added sinus pressure. This pressure occurs primarily around the upper jaw region, which can also trigger migraine.

Alternatively, wisdom teeth may worsen a migraine already underway. A central nerve in the head picks up irritation, which may exacerbate migraine symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

Pain receptors throughout the head and mouth are all connected. Pain picked up in one area may indirectly worsen pain or symptoms a person experiences in another region.

For certain individuals, temporomandibular joint can heighten migraine symptoms and may increase the likelihood of it becoming chronic.

Migraine symptoms

Some of the most common migraine symptoms include:

A person with symptoms of migraine may need to consult a doctor if pain:

  • makes it difficult to carry out daily activities
  • is moderate to severe and often intense
  • is on one or both sides of the head
  • causes a throbbing, pounding, or pulsating sensation
  • worsens with physical activity or any movement
  • causes nausea and vomiting
  • causes sensitivity to light, sounds, or smells

Doctors may also refer people who experience migraine to a neurologist if they have additional symptoms. These may include:

  • vision changes
  • sudden migraine onset
  • migraine that lasts for a number of days

A person should seek emergency medical attention if their headache accompanies the following symptoms:

  • confusion
  • slurred speech
  • clumsiness
  • numbness
  • difficulty standing

Wisdom teeth grow in the very back of the mouth. Most people have four wisdom teeth, one at the back of each row of teeth.

When wisdom teeth begin to grow, they can cause pain or inflammation. They can also harm other teeth in the mouth and may lead to infections.

Some of the signs that wisdom teeth are coming in may include:

  • pain around the back of the jaw that worsens over time
  • infection in the back of the mouth
  • tenderness or swelling

Treating wisdom teeth growing pains at home

Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can help address this pain at home. Certain mouthwashes can also work to minimize inflammation.

Alternatively, rinsing with warm salt water can counter soreness and soothe inflamed gums.

Individuals concerned that their wisdom teeth are erupting or impacted should consult a dentist. The dentist can perform X-rays to determine the most suitable treatment.

If a person has a fully impacted wisdom tooth, the tooth remains underneath the gum line. Partially impacted wisdom teeth are partly visible, but most of the tooth remains hidden.

Impacted teeth can cause:

Impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to pain or swelling around the jaw region. Additionally, they may cause:

  • bleeding in the gums
  • bad breath
  • limited mouth mobility

For some individuals, the effects of impacted wisdom teeth can cause or worsen migraine.

People with impacted wisdom teeth should consult an oral surgeon to determine whether they will require removal surgery to alleviate jaw pain and any other related symptoms, such as headaches or migraine.

Read more about the recovery time of wisdom teeth removal here.

Wisdom teeth may exert pressure on muscles or nerves that can lead to or worsen migraine headaches. Growing wisdom teeth can also cause nerve damage that may result in migraine symptoms.

Although wisdom teeth may cause discomfort, there are many treatment options available. Home remedies can help reduce pain and migraine.

Wisdom tooth removal surgery may permanently resolve the pain or other symptoms.

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