Can a toothache cause problems to the rest of your body?

We know that the health of your mouth has an impact on your overall health, but does pain in your mouth cause problems for your body? When you have a toothache, it can certainly feel like your whole body is involved! Your head may throb, your heart may race, and you may feel nauseous or just generally sick. Is it all in your imagination?

In a word, no. A common cause of a toothache is tooth infection, and a tooth infection can definitely affect your whole body. Tooth infections happen when bacteria enter the tooth because of a chip or a cavity, and infections can lead to an abscess at the root of the tooth. An abscess causes constant, throbbing pain that can radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear, along with bad breath, a bad taste in the mouth, and increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

Left untreated, the bacteria that caused your tooth infection can begin to spread throughout your body. If it spreads to the blood, it can cause sepsis, with symptoms that include an extremely high fever, respiratory trouble, and mental confusion. Your blood pressure may drop, causing you to go into septic shock, and in the worst case scenario, you could die. Another life-threatening condition that can result from a tooth infection is meningitis, which occurs because of inflammation near the brain and spinal cord. Ludwig’s Angina can also be caused by a tooth infection, bringing symptoms of pain and tenderness under the tongue, trouble swallowing, breathing, and speaking, swelling and redness of the neck, neck and ear pain, drooling, fever, chills, fatigue, confusion, and weakness. To avoid any of these complications and illnesses, it’s important to seek prompt medical treatment for a tooth infection. To prevent tooth infections, practice good oral hygiene, eat a nutrient-dense diet, and see your dentist regularly.

You don’t necessarily have to have a tooth infection to have your tooth pain affect other parts of your body. Because of a shared nerve, tooth pain can cause head pain. If you grind your teeth, it can cause muscle stress that results in both a toothache and a headache, and these can also both be caused by a sinus infection or TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction). If your tooth hurts due to a cavity, crack, or impaction, you may get a migraine. It is thought that the connection between tooth pain and migraines has to do with a cranial nerve called the trigeminal nerve, which provides feeling to the face, including the mouth. Pain from a toothache can irritate this nerve and trigger a migraine.

If you have a toothache, don’t put off seeing an experienced dentist, who can determine the source of your pain and prevent it from affecting the rest of your body. At Park 56 Dental Group, we offer pediatric, prosthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, Invisalign®, emergency, and sedation dentistry, all at the highest level of treatment. We serve the Midtown, Central Park, Upper East Side, Park Avenue, and all surrounding Manhattan and New York areas, with a patient-centered practice that has hours to fit your schedule. Schedule your complimentary consultation today by contacting us online or calling us at (212) 826-2322.