Can Periodontal Disease Cause Migraines

When it comes to oral health, the significance of maintaining healthy gums cannot be overstated. Not only is gum health crucial for preserving our teeth and preventing periodontal disease, but emerging research suggests that it may also play a role in the occurrence of migraines. This connection between periodontal disease and migraines illuminates the profound impact oral health can have on our overall well-being and highlights the necessity of prioritizing gum health.

Unveiling the Connection: Periodontal Disease and Migraines

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the gums, which can progress to affect the bone that supports the teeth. It manifests in two main stages: gingivitis, marked by red and swollen gums that bleed easily, and periodontitis, a more severe form that can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to other systemic health issues.

Migraines, on the other hand, are intense and often debilitating headaches that can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. While the exact cause of migraines is still being studied, factors such as genetic predisposition, environmental triggers, and now, possibly, periodontal disease, have been identified as potential contributors.

Recently, research has been published indicating that periodontal disease could either be a contributing factor or a concurrent condition with migraines. Led by Dr. Mei-Hsuan Lee at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, this Taiwanese study, motivated by similar investigations in Spain, sought to examine the potential link between gum disease and migraine occurrences.

The research analyzed data from 66,109 individuals aged 30 to 70 from the Taiwan Biobank. This included a subset of 4,618 participants who were already identified as suffering from migraines, alongside 61,491 control subjects without a history of migraines.

The analysis showed that a significant 94% (4,324 of 4,618) of those diagnosed with migraines also presented with symptoms of periodontal disease. This contrasted with 91% (56,036 of 61,491) of the control group, highlighting a discernible higher rate of gum disease among migraine sufferers.

It’s crucial to acknowledge, firstly, the study’s geographic specificity to the Taiwanese population, which may limit its generalizability. Secondly, the study’s objective was to establish whether a link exists between the two conditions, not to elucidate the mechanisms behind such a connection. These preliminary results point towards the necessity for further investigative work to clarify the biological underpinnings of the relationship between periodontal disease and migraines.

The Importance of Gum Health

The potential connection between periodontal disease and migraines underscores the importance of maintaining optimal gum health. Good oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, are essential to prevent the buildup of plaque, the primary cause of gum disease. Moreover, a healthy diet and avoiding tobacco products can also contribute to healthier gums and, consequently, a healthier body.

Regular dental check-ups are crucial for early detection and management of periodontal disease. Dentists can provide personalized advice on improving oral hygiene and perform treatments, such as scaling and root planing, to address existing gum disease. By taking proactive steps to maintain gum health, individuals can not only protect their teeth and gums but also potentially reduce the risk of developing migraines.

Ways to Prevent Periodontal Disease

Preventing periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, involves a combination of good oral hygiene practices, regular dental check-ups, and lifestyle modifications. Here are key strategies to prevent the onset and progression of periodontal disease:

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene:

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, paying special attention to the gumline to remove plaque and food particles. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it every three to four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed.

Floss Daily:

Flossing once a day helps remove plaque and food particles between the teeth and under the gumline, areas that your toothbrush can’t reach.

Use Antimicrobial Mouthwash:

Incorporating an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash into your daily routine can help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption:

Smoking is a significant risk factor for periodontal disease, and quitting can greatly reduce your risk. Alcohol consumption can also contribute to gum disease, so it’s advisable to consume it in moderation.

Eat a Healthy Diet:

Consuming a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can boost your immune system and help your body fight off infections, including those that cause gum disease. Foods high in vitamin C, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium are particularly beneficial for gum health.

Stay Hydrated:

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps wash away food particles and bacteria and stimulates saliva production, which is essential for neutralizing acids and protecting the gums.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly:

Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings at least twice a year are crucial for maintaining healthy gums. Your dentist can detect early signs of gum disease and provide treatments to prevent its progression.

Manage Stress:

High levels of stress can impair your body’s immune response, making it harder to fight off infections like those that cause gum disease. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies.

Avoid Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth:

These habits can put excessive force on the teeth and gums, leading to recession and other issues that can exacerbate gum disease. If you clench or grind your teeth, especially at night, consider using a custom-made mouth guard.

Monitor Your Oral Health:

Be vigilant about changes in your mouth, such as swollen, red, or bleeding gums, as these can be early signs of gum disease. Early detection and treatment can prevent more serious problems.

By following these preventative measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease and maintain a healthy mouth.


The emerging research on the possible connection between periodontal disease and migraines adds another layer to the importance of gum health. It serves as a powerful reminder that taking care of our gums is not just about preventing bad breath or tooth loss—it’s about taking care of our entire body. As we continue to unravel the complex relationships between different health conditions, the role of oral health as a foundation for overall health becomes ever more apparent. Prioritizing gum health is not just a good dental practice; it’s a crucial strategy for enhancing our quality of life.

Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry.  He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.