Why Do I Have a Headache After Tooth Extraction? - Teeth FAQ Blog (2023)

Have you had a tooth extracted? Do you now have a headache?

Headaches are relatively common after tooth extractions. Although they are common, post tooth extraction headaches shouldn’t last long. There are things you can do to limit the headache.

As a busy working dentist, I often get asked by patients about headaches after extractions.

There is some information that may help with the relief of your headache.

In this article, I will give my professional opinion as a qualified dentist.

  • We discuss whether headaches after tooth extractions are normal
  • Is muscle tension the cause of post-extraction headache
  • Can anxiety make the headache worse
  • Is a headache for days after tooth extraction normal
  • Could a long-term headache indicate infection after tooth extraction?

Contents

(Video) DRY SOCKET - Infection after tooth extraction: causes and treatment ©

Headache after Tooth Extraction – Is it normal?

Removing a tooth is not always simple. It really is removing a small body part! There is local anesthetic, lots of pushing and pulling, and you have to keep your mouth open for sometimes a fairly long time.

Occasionally a patient will have a headache after a tooth extraction, but it should not last for too long. Headache after tooth removal happens occasionally but is not expected after every extraction.

There are four main reasons why you may have a headache after an extraction. While headaches after extraction are rare, I sometimes see them with my patients and typically these are the four most common causes.

  1. The jaw and facial muscles can become very tense during the extraction procedure. This is the most common cause
  2. Anxiety can have an intense effect on the body. Recovering from fear or nervousness prior to or during the procedure can result in a headache a few hours after having the tooth out
  3. Infection that is present before or after the extraction can sometimes result in a headache
  4. Dry socket after an extraction is sometimes associated with a fairly severe headache

Each of these causes has a different solution to relieve the headache. Below I will list my typical recommendations to help ease post-extraction headaches.

No matter the cause of the headache – it’s best to follow your dentist’s post-extraction instructions closely and to take any medication recommended.

If the headache continues for more than a couple of days or if you can’t stop taking your medication, you’ll need to contact your dentist to discuss it further.

Jaw muscles causing headache after extraction

Opening your jaw wide during the extraction or treatment procedure can cause muscular and joint discomfort. This discomfort may trigger headaches or migraines.

For many people, sore muscles in the jaw after any dental work is not uncommon.

(Video) Tooth extraction consequences - Lapointe dental centres

When you have a tooth extracted sometimes the movements of wiggling the tooth out can lightly strain the jaw muscles. A strained muscle (like the masseter muscle or the temporalis muscle) can cause headache.

The face muscles are also very active, even after extraction. The muscles of the jaw are used to chew food, talk, and smile. So they can sometimes get sore during use after the muscle has been strained during an extraction

Ways to ease sore muscles after tooth extraction (and reduce headache)

  • Short 20 minute or fewer stints with an ice pack can reduce muscle swelling and help with the pain. After placing the ice pack for 20 minutes, give it a 40-minute rest. We don’t want to freeze ourselves too much!
  • Some dentists and pharmacists recommend antiinflammatory painkillers – but this will change depending on the type of extraction and surgery. Call your Doctor or Dentist for advice before taking or changing anything.
  • You need to eat, but chewy and tough foods are not a good option.
  • Rest, relax, and avoid demanding situations where you need to talk or smile a lot.

Anxiety and Fear of the Dentist Can Give You a Headache After Tooth Extraction

You won’t meet many people that are excited to have a tooth extracted. Even when a tooth is painful or diseased, a typical patient is a bit apprehensive about having a tooth removed.

Anxiety and fear can give you a headache. And recovering from being nervous or anxious can give you a whopper of a headache.

This is why some people get headaches for a few hours after dental work.

The more intense symptoms of dental anxiety during a tooth extraction include

  • chest tightness
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • shaking hands
  • dry mouth
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • difficulty in breathing
  • blurred vision
  • sweating

Even my most nervous patients are usually thrilled once the tooth is out, and leave feeling very happy. However, the anxiety that they were feeling earlier can have an effect hours later – even when they are no longer feeling nervous.

Essentially this is a form of tension headache.

There are no instant cures for a tension headache, but the folks over at calm clinic recommend the following (Calm Clinic guide to tension headaches)

  • Painkillers if you can take them
  • Closing your eyes in a dark space, and rubbing the temples for five minutes
  • Take a warm shower and see if the head can relax you
  • Ask someone to give you a gentle massage
(Video) How painful is tooth extraction?

Is a headache DAYS after tooth extraction normal?

It is not typical to have a headache for multiple days after an extraction.

If there is muscle pain or spasm this can take a few days to settle, but you should be seeing significant topical relief with ice or heat packs and perhaps anti-inflammatory painkillers.

If you have a serious headache DAYS after an extraction, you need to contact your dentist for advice straight away.

There are many reasons that a headache can persist, two of which are rare but seen sometimes.

1) Infection after a tooth removal can cause headache

When I take out teeth for my patients, they are rarely healthy teeth. Usually, there is either some decay, abscess, repeat gum infection, or other condition that has compromised the tooth.

This means sometimes there is a little infection before the tooth is taken out.

On top of this, you can also get a new infection as the wound heals. After all, there are millions of bacteria in the mouth and we use our mouths to eat and talk (and sing and laugh).

Infection after dental extraction is rare – but it does happen. It occurs in well less than 5% of cases in my practice.

If you have a headache that starts days after the tooth removal or just won’t go away – there is a chance your body is fighting an infection.

Signs of infection after tooth extraction include

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Pus
  • Really bad tastes (though a healing extraction does taste bad anyway)

If you suspect infection, you need to call your dental clinic. Don’t risk anything – call for advice. It is nothing they won’t have heard before – and they can offer tailored advice to help you recover.

(Video) Standard Inferior Alveolar Nerve Block

Dry socket can also cause headache after extraction

A dry socket is when the blood clot that forms over an extraction site falls out of place. If you have a dry socket, your mouth will be extremely painful and you’ll experience throbbing pain. When people experience dry sockets, they often develop a headache.

Dry socket following tooth extraction is not really an infection – it is rather a delay to healing that is very painful.

Manage this with warm salt water rinses, and book to see your dentist right away. It is not a major complication – just a painful one. There are dentist specific treatments that can ease the pain until the dry socket resolves itself.

(Typically we either dress the dry socket with special medicine, or sometimes we create a new blood clot and even restitch).

Can dental injections cause headaches after extraction?

Local anaesthetics (injections) are occasionally associated with headaches for some people. It is not super common – but not unheard of. Although the amount of local anesthetic I use when removing a tooth gives wonderful numbing – it is actually a very small and safe dose. Most dentists are similar.

If a headache is caused by a local anesthetic, it will pass in a few hours. It might also happen if you have a filling, or treatment elsewhere on the body requiring local. Be mindful and discuss with your doctor or dentist before any future work.

An Interesting Cluster Headache Extraction Link

There are rare cases where a cluster headache has resolved after removal of a problem tooth. It needs to be stressed that this is super rare (see this journal article for an example) and most of the time removing a tooth won’t benefit or worsen cluster headaches.

The Bottom Line

There are many reasons someone can have a headache after tooth extraction.

Among these, there is the possibility of infection, dry socket, or even dental injections. Muscle soreness and anxiety can also be triggers for headaches after tooth removal.

Local measures such as painkillers (as recommended by a doctor or pharmacist only), cold packs, being sure to eat, and rest – tend to reduce the headache. Most will see it improve soon.

(Video) Dry Socket (After tooth extraction): All you need to know

If your headache persists for days after tooth extraction or any of these don’t work then you need to contact your dentist for advice straight away

FAQs

Are headaches normal after tooth extraction? ›

Headache after a tooth extraction is common, but it goes after a few days once the area heals up. The extremity may vary though it is not unbearable. Having headaches is not necessary, but in a few cases, people suffer after extraction. There is a connection between human facial muscles.

Why does my head hurt after dental work? ›

Teeth Grinding and Jaw Issues

The most common headaches associated with dental issues are tension headaches. These tension headaches are caused by muscle strain that builds up in the mouth and jaw.

Does tooth extraction affect brain? ›

A:Extraction of upper teeth do not affect brain or vision. These are only myths. With right technique, any tooth can be simply extracted and does not matter whether tooth is firm or mobile. Rest assured, believe in your dentist and leave it to him.

Does dry socket make your head hurt? ›

Dry socket occurs when the blood clot dissolves or falls out too soon, exposing the bone and nerves. This may cause severe pain, which can extend to the jaw or other parts of the face and head. Symptoms usually occur 1 to 3 days after surgery.

Why does my temple hurt after tooth extraction? ›

A dry socket is when the blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from the tooth socket. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and/or pain radiating to the ear or temple may occur three to five days following your surgery. Please call the office if this should occur.

Should I still have pain 5 days after tooth extraction? ›

After having a tooth extracted - especially molars - you may feel some pain and discomfort for around 3-7 days after it has been removed. However, if you still have intense pain near the area immediately after 5 days, book an appointment to see your dentist.

What helps a headache after tooth extraction? ›

Jaw pain may also lead to a fever and migraines following an extraction. We recommend applying a hot or cold compress to your head, taking pain medications as prescribed, sticking to a nutritious diet, and relaxing for a few days. If your fever and/or migraines persist, contact our office right away.

What is a trigeminal headache? ›

Overview. Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that causes painful sensations similar to an electric shock on one side of the face. This chronic pain condition affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain.

How long does face hurt after tooth extraction? ›

The extraction isn't a painful process, but you may experience pain and soreness after the procedure. These symptoms should subside within 2-5 days, but it is crucial to follow all post-extraction care instructions provided by your dentist.

What is the most common complication following a tooth extraction? ›

Dry socket is the most common complication following tooth extractions, such as the removal of third molars (wisdom teeth). Over-the-counter medications alone won't be enough to treat dry socket pain. Your dentist or oral surgeon can offer treatments to relieve your pain.

Does tooth extraction make you tired? ›

Tiredness. Your body is using energy to heal itself, so you may feel more tired than usual – this is perfectly normal.

How do you know if you lost the blood clot after tooth extraction? ›

After a tooth extraction, you should develop a blood clot in the socket (hole) that's left behind. It'll look like a dark-colored scab. But if you have a dry socket, the clot will be absent and you'll be able to see bone. For this reason, dry sockets usually appear white.

How can you tell the difference between dry socket and normal pain? ›

However, the main difference between a dry socket vs normal is that your pain level will begin to escalate as time goes on. You may experience throbbing that spreads across your jaw, all the way up to your ear.

Does blood clot fell out after tooth extraction? ›

After a tooth extraction, a normal socket will develop a blood clot that stays in place while the wound heals, while a person's pain will steadily improve. In a dry socket, the blood clot will partially or fully detach from the wound, which can worsen the pain.

When can I eat solid food after tooth extraction? ›

Normally, you should avoid solid food for just 24 hours after your oral surgery, after which it may be okay to eat it again. It's very important to talk to your dentist about specific eating instructions, as it depends on the type of treatment that you have received as well as your own individual healing time.

How long does the blood clot stay after tooth extraction? ›

After about 7-10 days, your clot should be fully formed and in place. If you had stitches placed, they will be removed if they were non-dissolving. If they were dissolving stitches, they'll disappear on their own.

How do I know if my socket is healing? ›

About 3 days after your tooth extraction, your gums will begin to heal and close around the removal site. And finally, 7-10 days after your procedure, the opening left by your extracted tooth should be closed (or almost closed), and your gums should no longer be tender or swollen.

What is the most painful day after tooth extraction? ›

Pain. It is normal for pain to get worse over the next couple of days. Most discomfort is seen on day 2 and 3. Once you get home and the bleeding has stopped, you should eat (soft foods, pudding, etc.).

What does dry socket taste like? ›

No associated taste. Bad breath. Foul odor coming from the extraction site.

When can I sleep on my side after tooth extraction? ›

Keeping the head to the side while sleeping could cause the protective materials to shift a small bit, making it harder for the teeth to stay healthy. You'll need to sleep on your back for at least a week after the initial procedure.

Can I drink coffee after tooth extraction? ›

While every patient heals at a slightly different pace, most people can begin drinking small amounts of coffee around 5 days after an extraction. If all goes well, within two weeks any swelling should subside and your mouth should be mostly healed. At that point, you can return to drinking your normal amount of coffee.

What are the chances of getting dry socket? ›

A dry socket will occur in only one to three percent of all tooth extraction cases, but it becomes much more common in the extraction of lower, or what we call mandibular, wisdom teeth. Those who undergo tooth extraction can experience dry socket.

Is it normal to have a headache after wisdom teeth removal? ›

Oral surgery can leave you with a stiff jaw, which can lead to tension headaches. The surgery itself may also lead to postoperative headaches, including migraines, caused by: anesthesia. stress and anxiety.

What does neuralgia in the head feel like? ›

Symptoms of occipital neuralgia include continuous aching, burning and throbbing, with intermittent shocking or shooting pain that generally starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp on one or both sides of the head. Patients often have pain behind the eye of the affected side of the head.

Which nerve is responsible for headache? ›

TMD and migraine headaches are closely linked by the trigeminal nerve (Cranial Nerve V), which is also responsible for jaw and tooth junctions.

What are the signs of neuralgia? ›

The main symptom of trigeminal neuralgia is sudden attacks of severe, sharp, shooting facial pain that last from a few seconds to about 2 minutes. The pain is often described as excruciating, like an electric shock. The attacks can be so severe that you're unable to do anything while they're happening.

What helps gums heal faster after extraction? ›

6 Tips for Faster Recovery After a Tooth Extraction
  • Rest. It is crucial to get adequate rest after your tooth extraction. ...
  • Eat a Soft Food Diet. ...
  • Avoid Using a Straw or Smoking. ...
  • Cold Therapy. ...
  • Use Over-the-Counter Medications. ...
  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene.
7 Oct 2021

How much pain is normal after tooth extraction? ›

Is pain after tooth extraction normal? After tooth extraction, your gums need time to heal. You may have pain or sensitivity at the extraction site for one to three days, but you should notice an improvement after that point. If the pain worsens, call one of our dentists for advice.

What medicine should I take after tooth extraction? ›

Pain After Tooth Extraction

If you can take ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®), take 400–600 mg every 6–8 hours or as prescribed by your doctor. Ibuprofen will help with pain relief and as an anti-inflammatory. If you cannot take ibuprofen, then 1–2 tablets of regular Tylenol® should be taken every 4 hours.

What are the symptoms of a jaw bone infection? ›

Jawbone infections/dental abscesses are caused when a dental cavity remains untreated.
...
Symptoms of a jaw bone infection or dental abscess include:
  • Pain in the mouth or jaw.
  • Redness or swelling.
  • Drainage of pus from the area.

Do you need antibiotics after a tooth extraction? ›

Tooth extractions in adulthood are sometimes a necessary measure to stop pain and save your dental health. Antibiotics are not always administered after an oral surgery, since your mouth does a good job at cleaning itself with good bacteria, and antibiotics often destroy good bacteria along with the bad bacteria.

How do you prevent complications after tooth extraction? ›

Preventing Complications After a Tooth Extraction
  1. Avoid Certain Eating and Drinking Habits. After a tooth extraction, there is likely to be tenderness and soreness around the extraction site. ...
  2. Carefully Maintain Daily Oral Hygiene. ...
  3. Follow the Dentist's Instructions.

How do I sleep first night after tooth extraction? ›

Choose the Right Position. During the initial stages of healing, the tooth extraction site may ooze. Because of this, sleeping on your side is best, at least for the first night. Plus, if you lie flat on your back, you might experience more swelling.

Can tooth extraction cause flu like symptoms? ›

Flu-like symptoms are more likely to occur following tooth extractions than dental cleanings. Your body may also respond to the extraction procedure because you have a weakened immune system or other underlying health condition. Nausea, sore jaw, and sore lip are also possible symptoms following extraction.

How can I sleep to avoid dry socket? ›

Try elevating your head by using an extra pillow at night to help reduce swelling and promote clotting. Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your side allows you to more easily keep your head propped up on a pillow compared to sleeping on your back. Apply ice.

How easy is it to dislodge a blood clot in your mouth? ›

The drawing action of sucking in, and the force applied when spitting, can dislodge the blood clot. Sneezing and coughing can also dislodge a blood clot. Hard or crunchy foods can displace the blood clot.

Is ice cream good after a tooth extraction? ›

Try to stick with easy-to-chew foods for a few days. Initially, choose cool foods like yogurt, pudding, Jell-O, and ice cream. If you choose ice cream, select a variety that does not contain crunchy or chewy candy pieces and avoid ice cream cones.

Can gauze pull out blood clot? ›

Gauze placed against the wound will draw blood from the clot and this, likewise, is not a sign of bleeding. Place an old towel over your pillow for the first night to reduce risk of staining. If the bleeding persists, contact the office.

When does danger of dry socket pass? ›

This risk is present until you're fully healed, which may take 7 to 10 days in many cases. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that should have formed in the socket after your extraction is either accidentally removed or never formed in the first place. Dry socket is no longer a risk once the site is healed.

Does dry socket hurt immediately? ›

Does dry socket hurt instantly? You will not feel a higher amount of pain the first two days after the extraction. However, if healing does not progress well and if the clot falls out, then you will start to feel a dull, throbbing, and radiating pain that keeps increasing to the point of becoming simply unbearable.

What do dentists use to fill dry socket? ›

Your dentist or oral surgeon may pack the socket with medicated gel or paste and medicated dressings. These can provide relatively fast pain relief. The severity of your pain and other symptoms will determine whether you need dressing changes and how often or if you need other treatment.

How do you know if you dislodged a blood clot? ›

How to tell if I have dislodged a wisdom tooth blood clot? If you have dislodged a wisdom tooth blood clot then you will either see the clot in your mouth and/or the socket will begin to bleed again.

Do all tooth extractions require stitches? ›

It depends. If your dentist or oral surgeon cuts into the gum tissue, you may need stitches. Your provider will let you know if the stitches will dissolve on their own or if you need to schedule a follow-up appointment to have them removed. For some extractions, you might not need stitches at all.

How do you clean your mouth after a tooth extraction? ›

Don't rinse for the first 24 hours, and this will help your mouth to start healing. After this time use a salt-water mouthwash, which helps to heal the socket. A teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water gently rinsed around the socket twice a day can help to clean and heal the area.

How long should I have a headache after tooth extraction? ›

With proper aftercare, most patients recover within a few days. However, some people also have concerns regarding headaches after tooth extraction. But it goes after a few days as soon as the area heals up. Moreover, this sensation is quite common, however, not necessary.

What are the signs of an infection after a tooth extraction? ›

Infected tooth extraction signs involve a yellow or white discharge, pain, and swelling from the extraction site. If you think you have an infection, you should see your dentist immediately. Your dentist can affirm the presence of an infection and prescribe antibiotics.

How can you tell the difference between dry socket and normal pain? ›

However, the main difference between a dry socket vs normal is that your pain level will begin to escalate as time goes on. You may experience throbbing that spreads across your jaw, all the way up to your ear.

Why am I getting headaches after wisdom teeth removal? ›

Oral surgery can leave you with a stiff jaw, which can lead to tension headaches. The surgery itself may also lead to postoperative headaches, including migraines, caused by: anesthesia. stress and anxiety.

Why do I feel exhausted after tooth extraction? ›

Tiredness. Your body is using energy to heal itself, so you may feel more tired than usual – this is perfectly normal.

Can I drink coffee after tooth extraction? ›

While every patient heals at a slightly different pace, most people can begin drinking small amounts of coffee around 5 days after an extraction. If all goes well, within two weeks any swelling should subside and your mouth should be mostly healed. At that point, you can return to drinking your normal amount of coffee.

What are the chances of getting dry socket? ›

A dry socket will occur in only one to three percent of all tooth extraction cases, but it becomes much more common in the extraction of lower, or what we call mandibular, wisdom teeth. Those who undergo tooth extraction can experience dry socket.

What is the most common complication following a tooth extraction? ›

Dry socket is the most common complication following tooth extractions, such as the removal of third molars (wisdom teeth). Over-the-counter medications alone won't be enough to treat dry socket pain. Your dentist or oral surgeon can offer treatments to relieve your pain.

How do you know if you lost the blood clot after tooth extraction? ›

After a tooth extraction, you should develop a blood clot in the socket (hole) that's left behind. It'll look like a dark-colored scab. But if you have a dry socket, the clot will be absent and you'll be able to see bone. For this reason, dry sockets usually appear white.

How do I know if my tooth extraction is healing properly? ›

After about 3 days, the empty tooth socket will have mostly healed. There should be no more bleeding present, and swelling should be minimal at this point. You may still experience some tenderness or soreness, but you should no longer feel pain or discomfort.

What does dry socket taste like? ›

No associated taste. Bad breath. Foul odor coming from the extraction site.

When does danger of dry socket pass? ›

This risk is present until you're fully healed, which may take 7 to 10 days in many cases. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that should have formed in the socket after your extraction is either accidentally removed or never formed in the first place. Dry socket is no longer a risk once the site is healed.

When can I eat solid food after tooth extraction? ›

Normally, you should avoid solid food for just 24 hours after your oral surgery, after which it may be okay to eat it again. It's very important to talk to your dentist about specific eating instructions, as it depends on the type of treatment that you have received as well as your own individual healing time.

Can tooth extraction affect sinuses? ›

Dental extractions can cause sinuses to become infected, which is why it is so important to follow a strictly planned aftercare protocol. Sinus infections can co-occur with oral problems, and oral problems can lead to sinus problems.

How do you sleep after a tooth extraction? ›

Sleeping on your back is necessary

Keeping the head to the side while sleeping could cause the protective materials to shift a small bit, making it harder for the teeth to stay healthy. You'll need to sleep on your back for at least a week after the initial procedure.

How long does face hurt after tooth extraction? ›

The extraction isn't a painful process, but you may experience pain and soreness after the procedure. These symptoms should subside within 2-5 days, but it is crucial to follow all post-extraction care instructions provided by your dentist.

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