Could Your Migraines be Caused by Oral Bacteria?


Migraines start fast and the pain hits hard. Pulsating pain, sensitivity to light and smell, and most people can only find relief with time. What causes these horrible headaches? Today we’re exploring the link between migraines and your dental health. If you have migraines, here’s what you need to know about the bacteria in your mouth. 

Migraine Symptoms 

If you’ve ever had a migraine headache, you know just how painful they can be. A migraine headache has the following symptoms:

  • Pain usually on one side of the head, but can be felt on both sides in many people
  • Throbbing or pulsating pain 
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and even touch
  • Nausea and vomiting 

Before the headache, many people get an aura. This is a visual phenomena that causes people to see various bright spots or light. Some people can also lose their vision before a migraine attack, feel pin and needle sensations throughout the body, have difficulty talking and more. 

After the attack, patients can feel groggy, confused, and drained. A migraine can last for days at a time if left untreated. 

Migraine Treatment

It’s hard to knock a migraine out once it begins. Many people find help in taking pain relievers, specific prescription medications, and more. At home remedies include heat therapy, ice therapy, lying down in a dark room, and trying to sleep it off. 

Migraines and Oral Health 

Many migraine sufferers have attributed certain foods and drinks to triggering their debilitating headaches. Further, research has shown that the cause of the headaches might just be due to the amount of bacteria found in the mouth. Researchers have shown that the mouths of migraine sufferers held substantially more microbes that break down nitrates found in certain foods.

They further explain that the process of how nitrates break down into nitric oxide is well-studied in cardiovascular research. Nitrate-containing medications are often used to treat chest pain or heart failure, but many patients who take the medications report severe headaches, like migraines, as a side effect. 

Keeping Bacteria in Your Mouth at Bay 

Not only can bacteria in the mouth potentially cause migraines, but it has also been linked to conditions like arthritis and pneumonia. Over 6 billion bacteria live in your mouth. When you feel your teeth are slimy and sticky and need to be brushed, that’s the bacteria you’re feeling. Healthline explains that oral bacteria thrives inside your cheeks, tongue, gums, and even tonsils as well. While there are billions of bacteria in your mouth, some are needed — but some aren’t. To best keep a handle on the bacteria in your mouth, you need to be committed to an oral hygiene routine each and every day. 

Oral Hygiene Care

Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things to do for your health each day. Healthy teeth not only look good, but they make you feel good, eat properly, and talk normally as well. Daily preventative care, including proper brushing and flossing, can help stop problems before they begin. You should brush your teeth twice a day, two minutes each time. Additionally, you should floss once a day and use mouthwash as well. With all of that, one of the most important things you can do for your dental health is to visit your dentist regularly. A dental cleaning only takes about 30 minutes and should be done at least every 6 months. This will help prevent excessive plaque buildup, which will help keep your gums healthy and prevent tooth decay. A routine dental cleaning will also include scaling and polishing to give you the best smile possible. Then, after your cleaning, you’ll receive an exam. 

Like your cleaning, the dental exam is an important part of your dental health. During the exam, the dentist will look over all hard and soft tissues of the mouth, record findings, diagnose, and develop a customized treatment plan if needed. 

Preventative dental care is always the best option. When you catch signs of potential problems early, it’s easier to keep them at bay. It’s our hope that, by helping you establish a good dental hygiene routine, that you could potentially prevent conditions like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even migraines —- which have all been linked to the bacteria in your mouth. 

Make an Appointment with Dr. Niles 

If you need help establishing a good oral hygiene routine, or if you’re overdue for a checkup, make an appointment with Niles Family Dentistry today. We’re here to answer all of your questions and help protect your health at all costs. Don’t put off seeking dental healthcare, call us today: (720)-744-0001. 

Ashley Niles

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