4 Possible Causes of Headache after Tooth Extraction

By Jessica Kelley | Health


Headaches are common and their impact can actually range from mild to disabling. In fact, many people experience them at some point in their life. Also, they can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, and age.

A headache can be a sign of emotional distress or stress or it can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition like high blood pressure, migraine, depression or anxiety. In addition, headache after tooth extraction can also occur.

Experiencing constant headache can complicate and cause other problems like difficulty in concentrating at work or in school.

Primary Headache versus Secondary Headache


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This condition can occur in any part of the head. In fact, it can occur on one side or both sides of the head. Also, it can radiate across the head from a certain point.

Many people describe the pain associated with headaches as throbbing, dull, or sharp. It can appear suddenly or gradually and can last for several minutes to several days.

There are various ways to define headaches. Experts have categorized headaches as primary; those are not caused by another medical condition, or secondary, those that are caused by an underlying condition.

Primary headaches are considered a stand-alone condition that is often caused by the over activity or structural issues in the parts of the head that are pain sensitive.

 Such parts include the muscles, blood vessels, and the nerves around the head and the neck. Also, it may also result from the changing chemical activity of the brain.

Secondary headaches, on the other hand, occur when another condition stimulates the pain sensitive nerves of the head. In simple terms, the headache symptom experienced is associated with another health condition.

An example of this type of a headache would be a headache after tooth extraction.

Types of Headaches


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There are different types of headaches, and the symptoms of this condition can vary depending on the type.

• Tension Headache

This is considered the most common form of a primary headache. This type of headache usually starts slow and gradual in the middle of the day.

For this type, a person may feel as if they have a tight band tied around the head, a constant and dull pain on both sides of the head, or pain that spreads to or from the neck area. Also, it may either be chronic or episodic.

• Migraines

Migraine headaches are often associated with a pulsating and throbbing pain that usually occurs on one side of the head. The pain may be accompanied by light headedness, nausea, blurred vision, and sensory disturbances.

This type of headache can last from a few hours to several days and can have a significant impact on a person’s life.

• Rebound Headaches

This type of headache is also referred to as medication-overuse headache and can result from the excessive use of medications used to treat headache symptoms. Also, this is the most common cause of secondary headache.

This headache typically occurs early in the day and persists throughout the day. Along with the head pain, a person may also experience neck pain, nasal congestion, restlessness, and reduced quality of sleep.

• Cluster Headache

This type of headache typically lasts between 15 minutes to three hours. They occur suddenly once to eight times in a day for a period of several weeks to months.

The pain associated with this type of headache is described as severe, one-sided, and sharp or burning.

• Thunderclap Headache

This type of headache occurs suddenly and is experienced severely. In fact, it is often described as ‘the worst headache of my life.

 It can reach its maximum intensity in a minute and last longer than five minutes.

Also, this type of headache is associated with life threatening conditions like an aneurysm, intracerebral hemorrhage, meningitis, and cerebral venous thrombosis. If you experience this, you should seek immediate medical consult.

Possible Causes of Headache after Tooth Extraction

While tooth extraction is not directly known to cause headaches, there are various ways in which this can contribute to the onset of a headache.

1. Stress Associated with the Tooth Extraction Procedure


There are some people who become stressed before and after a tooth extraction procedure. That being said, it can cause them to clench or grind their teeth which will ultimately result in a headache.

2. Muscle Spasm from Opening the Jaws Wide During the Procedure


During a tooth extraction procedure, your dentist will instruct you to open your mouth wide so he or she can access the tooth that needs to be removed.

This position may cause a muscle tear or muscle spasm and possibly joint pain. All of these possibilities will result in a headache.

3.  Jaw Pain or TMD Triggered by Tooth Extraction


Jaw pain or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is a commonly triggered by tooth extraction. That being said, it can lead to headaches.

TMD can cause swelling of the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is located in the face, around the jaw area and even through the eye sockets.

When this nerve is inflamed, it can cause cluster headaches and even migraine.

4.  Introduction of Anesthesia before a Tooth Extraction Procedure

During the introduction of local anesthesia before tooth extraction, it is possible that the needle can tear small muscle fibers.

 If this is the case, this can be the source of your discomfort and headache after tooth extraction.

Remedies for Headache after Tooth Extraction

A number of steps can be followed to reduce the risk of a headache after tooth extraction or to ease the pain when they do occur.

  • Hot or Cold Compress. You may apply an ice pack or a heat pack to your head or neck to reduce the pain. However, it is also important to note that you should avoid extreme temperatures.
  • Reduce and Avoid Stress. If possible, you should try to avoid stressors where possible. It is also ideal to develop healthy coping strategies, especially if you are faced with unavoidable stress.

  • Take Pain Medications as Prescribed. After tooth extraction, your dentist will prescribe pain medications to help relieve pain after tooth extraction. You should take the medications as prescribed.
  • Take it Easy in a Day or Two. Following a tooth extraction procedure, it is best that you relax, especially in the first 24 hours. You should limit activity for the next day or two to avoid complications like headache and bleeding.
  • Eat Healthy Meals as Indicated. Depending on the tooth extraction procedure performed, your dentist may instruct you to eat soft foods for the first 24 hours and gradually changing your diet to what you are previously accustomed to. You should follow your dentist’s instructions to avoid any complications.

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The Bottom Line

Headache after tooth extraction is a fairly common condition. Most people experience it one or two times. However, there are also those who experience it frequently.

If you are one of those who experiences adult headache frequently, you can perform some remedies that can reduce its occurrence.

 However, if the remedies do not work, you should consider consulting your primary healthcare provider.


About the Author

I am Jessica, co-founder of CareHappiness.com. We work to inspire, educate and empower our readers with all the latest updates and authentic information. Our goal is to bring up the “Healthy attitude” among people in the world. On CareHappiness.com you will find high-quality health information, fitness tips, diet charts and answer to all your health queries.

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