Smile Drs Logo
Fedoricw, Massoumi, & Kolbig

Can Periodontal Disease Cause Migraines?

woman at her desk with headache and bright light

In the realm of dental health, periodontal disease is a well-known adversary, characterized by gum inflammation that can progress to affect the bone that supports your teeth. On the other hand, migraines are a severe form of headache that can significantly impair the quality of life of those affected. While at first glance, these two conditions may seem unrelated, emerging research suggests a possible link between periodontal disease and the incidence of migraines. This intriguing connection offers a new perspective on the importance of oral health and its impact on overall well-being.

Understanding Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, begins as gingivitis, marked by red, swollen gums that may bleed easily. Without intervention, it can advance to periodontitis, where the gums pull away from the teeth, forming pockets susceptible to infection. The body’s immune response to this infection, along with the bacterial toxins, begins to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place. If not treated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to systemic health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.

Migraines: More Than Just a Headache

Migraines are a neurological condition that can cause severe, throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. They can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Some individuals experience auras, which are visual or sensory disturbances that precede the headache. The exact cause of migraines is still under investigation, but they are believed to involve changes in brain activity and the nervous system.

The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Migraines

Migraines, known for their complexity and elusive triggers, have been recently linked to periodontal disease in studies, suggesting gum disease might contribute to or coincide with migraines. Dr. Mei-Hsuan Lee of National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University spearheaded research in Taiwan, inspired by Spanish studies, to delve into this potential connection.

Drawing on the Taiwan Biobank’s data, the study encompassed 66,109 participants aged between 30 and 70, including 4,618 individuals already diagnosed with migraines and 61,491 controls without migraines. Findings revealed that 94% (4,324 out of 4,618) of migraine sufferers also suffered from periodontal disease, compared to 91% (56,036 out of 61,491) in the non-migraine group, suggesting a higher occurrence of gum disease among those with migraines.

However, two key points must be considered. Firstly, the study’s demographic was exclusively Taiwanese, which may affect its broader applicability. Secondly, the research aimed merely to detect a correlation between migraines and periodontal disease, without exploring the underlying mechanisms. These findings underscore the importance of further studies to unravel how periodontal disease might influence migraines.

Implications for Oral and Overall Health

The possible connection between periodontal disease and migraines highlights the importance of comprehensive oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups. Addressing periodontal disease not only helps maintain oral health but could also be a step towards reducing the frequency or severity of migraines for those affected. Furthermore, individuals suffering from frequent migraines may benefit from a dental evaluation to assess the health of their gums and teeth. Treating periodontal disease might offer an additional avenue for managing migraine symptoms, alongside traditional migraine treatments.

Tips for Gum Health

Keeping your gums healthy is essential for maintaining overall oral health and preventing conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis, which can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. Here are some effective tips to ensure your gums stay healthy:

Practice Good Oral Hygiene: 

Brush your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to brush gently along the gumline to remove plaque without causing irritation.

Floss Daily: 

Flossing once a day helps remove food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gumline where your toothbrush can’t reach.

Use an Antimicrobial Mouthwash: 

Incorporating an antimicrobial mouthwash into your daily routine can help reduce bacteria and plaque that cause gum disease.

Quit Smoking: 

Smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of gum disease and improve your overall oral health.

Eat a Balanced Diet: 

Consuming a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin C and calcium, can bolster gum health. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks as they can contribute to plaque formation.

Stay Hydrated: 

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps cleanse the mouth of food particles and bacteria. It also promotes saliva production, which is crucial for healthy gums.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly: 

Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are vital for maintaining gum health. Your dentist can detect early signs of gum disease and provide treatment to prevent further damage.

Use the Right Tools: 

Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t clean your teeth and gums effectively.

Avoid Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth: 

If you clench or grind your teeth, consider using a mouth guard at night. These habits can damage the gums indirectly by putting excessive force on the teeth, which can lead to gum recession.

Monitor Changes in Your Oral Health: 

Pay attention to any changes in your mouth, such as swollen, red, or bleeding gums, as these can be signs of gum disease. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing more serious problems.

By following these tips, you can maintain healthy gums, support your overall oral health, and reduce your risk of developing gum disease.


While the research connecting periodontal disease and migraines is still in its early stages, it opens up new avenues for understanding and managing both conditions. It emphasizes the interconnectedness of the body’s systems and the importance of maintaining oral health for overall well-being. Future studies are needed to further explore this relationship and to develop targeted strategies that could benefit individuals suffering from both periodontal disease and migraines. For now, this emerging research serves as a reminder of the importance of good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. By taking care of our gums and teeth, we may not only be preserving our smiles but also taking a step towards preventing or mitigating migraines.

Dr. Roman Fedorciw has been in private practice in Cromwell since 1991. He is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Dental Association. He is also a member of the Connecticut Dental Association and Middlesex County Dental Association. Dr. Fedorciw has been acknowledged by his peers as one of the “Top Dentists” in Hartford County by Hartford Magazine and in the state of Connecticut by Connecticut Magazine.