The Reasons Your Whole Head Hurts When You Have a Toothache

Posted on 9/15/2015 by Brandon Cooley
A woman suffering from a toothache.It is about 3am and you wake up out of a sound sleep, the bunnies and rainbows have become mountain goats dancing in your head and all you want to do is scream! That little pain you felt in your jaw a few weeks ago has decided to take over your world, sleep first. Your initial call, after your mother who scolds you again for not flossing, is to the dentist you have been avoiding. When you need that dentist, you are very glad she is there.

Why does your whole head hurt when you have a toothache? It is often due to an abscess, trauma to the tooth, or severe periodontal disease.

When bacteria builds up in a cavity, a hole in a tooth caused by bacteria, it can create an infection in the pulp of the tooth which houses all of its nerve endings. When the nerves swell in the healing process, given the hard structure of the tooth and the jaw to which it is attached, there is nowhere for the inflammation to go so the pressure builds in the cavity and the effects spread to encompass everything in the surrounding area. If this goes on long enough, your whole head hurts resulting in dancing mountain goats.

There are two basic ways to end the pain, the first is to pull the tooth, this is a very effective way to go as removing the tooth, also removes the root and if there is an abscess it can now drain through the void left by the tooth. Of course, with today's advances in dentistry, that is always a last resort.

The more common method is to perform a root canal that removes the nerve, now dead from the bacteria eating away at it, treating the infection at the same time.
If the infection has spread to the surrounding areas and has caused an abscess, further work must be done to care for the abscess. Often when an abscess bursts, the pain of the toothache will subside; however, the abscess bursting causes the bacteria to spread across the surrounding areas creating more infections in more places.

The bottom line, listen to your mother and floss twice a day and, if you have pain in your teeth, please contact us as soon as possible.

As a patient, three things stand out to me about Cooley Smiles - the great quality dental work, the cleanliness of the facility and thorough follow up. These are major differentiators that I look for in dental providers and to-date, I've always been satisfied with my experience. Thanks for the great patient care, Cooley Smiles team!

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