Toothache and a Headache on One Side: What Should I Do?

A woman holds the side of her face and her chin.
  • Toothaches and headaches on one side of the head have various causes, some more severe than others.

  • It’s important to take care of your dental health to avoid problems that cause a toothache, including tooth infections and abscesses.

  • If you are concerned about tooth pain and frequent headaches, be sure to seek medical treatment from a health care provider.

What Could Be Causing a Toothache and Headache on One Side?

There are several reasons why you may be experiencing tooth pain and a headache on one side of your head or face.

You may feel dull pain, discomfort in your jaw joint and surrounding muscles, and throbbing pain in the affected area.

Some of the most common causes of this type of pain are:

  • Sinus infections
  • Issues with the trigeminal nerve called trigeminal neuralgia
  • Tight jaw muscles
  • Cracked teeth
  • Tooth infections or other dental problems
  • Migraines

Let’s dive deeper into some leading causes of headaches and tooth pain.

Sinus infections

Also known as sinusitis, a sinus infection can cause the pain described above because of where the sinus cavities are located in relation to the teeth and head.

Swollen or inflamed sinuses can put pressure on the nerves that run through this area, creating a painful sensation in the upper back teeth.

The sinuses are located close to the brain, and, as a result, can cause a headache on one side of the head when they become infected.

Pain associated with sinus problems can also occur behind the eyes.

Cavernous sinus thrombosis

This is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a small cavity located behind the eyes and below the brain — this is known as the cavernous sinus.

The cavernous sinus contains the nerves that control eye movements and blood vessels that supply blood to the brain.

One of the most common symptoms of this condition is a throbbing and severe headache accompanied by toothache on one side of the face.

Other symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, and vision problems. This condition is a medical emergency that, if left untreated, could lead to serious complications.

If you suspect you have cavernous sinus thrombosis, it’s important to see a health care provider immediately.

A man stands outside and holds the side of his face in pain.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)

Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ, affects the jaw joint and the muscles that control the movement of the jaw.

The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull. If the joint becomes damaged, you may experience pain in the jaw, face, neck, and ears.

It can also result in a toothache sensation on one side of the face and a headache on one side of the head, especially when the jaw muscles become inflamed. This puts pressure on other facial structures like the teeth and head.

Tooth decay or another dental problem

Tooth pain accompanied by a headache could mean that you have dental problems. Some of these include:

  • An infected tooth: A tooth infection is a bacterial infection inside and around a tooth. This can be caused by tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma to the tooth.
  • An abscessed tooth: This is a painful and severe infection that happens when bacteria enter the tooth's pulp, causing a build-up of pus in the surrounding tissues. An abscessed tooth means an abscess at the tooth's root or tissue next to it.

It’s important to take care of your dental health to prevent tooth infections and other conditions. Some ways you can take care of your teeth and avoid dental treatment include:

  • Flossing daily
  • Ensuring you brush both your top and bottom teeth thoroughly every day
  • Visiting your dentist regularly
  • Using a mouthwash every day to protect your teeth and gums
A man looks into a mirror and smiles as he brushes his teeth.

Primary headache disorder

This is a type of headache disorder that results in recurring headaches that are not due to any underlying cause.

Headaches on one side of the head are a common symptom of this disorder and often feel like a throbbing pain. There are two types of primary headaches:

  • Migraines: Migraine headaches cause severe pain on one side of the head and induce symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine headaches can also cause referred pain in the teeth or jaw on the affected side of the head.
  • Cluster headaches: These are another type of primary headache that can cause pain on one side of the head, including around the eye and temple.

The exact cause of primary headaches is unknown, but it is believed that they are caused by changes in brain chemistry and how the brain processes pain signals.

Teeth grinding

Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is when a person clenches their jaw or grinds their teeth together. This typically happens unconsciously or during sleep.

While a mild case of teeth grinding will likely not cause any painful symptoms, severe cases can lead to toothache, headaches, and other complications.

Book a Consultation with a Healthcare Provider to Treat Toothache and Headaches

If you’d like to learn more about the causes of toothache and headaches on one side of the head, you can book a telehealth consultation with LifeMD.

Head over to the LifeMD website to schedule your appointment.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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