Last Updated on December 26, 2022 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
Can Cavities Cause Headaches?
To understand the headache associated with teeth, it is necessary to know a little more about cavities.
Tooth decay is initiated by the presence of acids generated by bacteria called bacterial plaques present on the tooth surface, We must remember that the tooth is made up of mineralized tissues called the enamel that covers the crown of the tooth and then continues with the next layer called dentin and ending with the root cement located by the root of the tooth. The internal part is the non-mineralized tissues such as the pulp and periodontal ligaments. The pulp plays a very important role in the life of the tooth, which is why it is called the heart of the tooth.
The mineralized tissues fulfill the function of protecting the pulp from external chemicals and physical or biological agents. The pulp fulfills the function of cellular and nutritional support that dentin requires to form and prepare for when it is affected by any of the agents mentioned; the healthy pulp does not present inflammatory changes.
Like any other connective tissue, it requires a nerve supply to provide its two major functions, vaso-motor control, and defense. The components of the pulp tissue consist of motor and sensory nerve fibers, the latter coming from the fifth cranial nerve like the branches of a tree and made up of three major branches: ophthalmic, maxillary, and mandibular.
These nerve fibers will cause a painful sensation because of their high neural density. The pulp tissue is characterized by having a double sensory and autonomic innervation; the innervation is in charge of nerve fibers, both myelinated and unmyelinated that reach the pulp along with the vessels through the apical foramen.
Caries initially appears as white spots in the tooth enamel that result from superficial decalcification due to the attack of acids caused by bacteria. At this stage, it does not present symptoms such as pain, and acid continues to attack the caries progressing until it reaches the dentin. In this phase, the discomfort can be significant and pain appears. The pulp when feeling attacked tries to defend itself with the fibrous connective tissue generating an inflammatory reaction, then the pressure triggers a reflex and a crisis with manifestations of brain pain such as migraine or trigeminal neuralgia.
The pain or reflex can be located in any of the three branches of the fifth cranial nerve. Thus confirming that caries can generate many headaches if they are not identified in time. For this reason, we must visit the dentist at least twice a year to clean and dispose of dental caries.
At Channel Islands Family Dental Office we can help you get rid of the cavities that are causing you headaches. We have Dentist in Oxnard, Newbury Park, Port Hueneme Dentist, and Santa Paula ready to help you out. We accept all PPO insurance. We also accept Medi-Cal and Tricare insurance. Make an appointment today.