Why Your Migraines Might be Caused by Oral Bacteria

Posted: June 25, 2020 By: Comment: 0

Migraines have always been difficult to understand. With many different factors that could be contributing to your headaches, it can be hard to narrow down the exact cause. If you have migraines, have you considered that oral bacteria could be to blame? Here’s what to know about the bacteria in your mouth and migraines. 

What is a Migraine Headache?

A migraine is a recurring kind of headache that can cause severe throbbing or pulsating pain. Oftentimes, the pain is located on one side of the head. When people get migraines, they most usually happen in four different stages. MedlinePlus explains those stages:

  • Stage 1: Prodrome – this stage happens the day before you get your migraine. Early signs can be food cravings, unexplained mood changes, fluid retention, increased urination, and even uncontrollable yawning
  • Stage 2: Aura – when people have this phase, they tend to see flashing or bright lights or zig-zag lines. This phase can also bring on muscle weakness. Auras typically begin right before a migraine begins
  • Stage 3: Headache – a migraine tends to begin gradually, becoming more severe as it continues. Most people feel throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of the head. In some instances, people can have a migraine without a headache. When that happens, symptoms can include: increased sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, nausea and vomiting, and worsened pain when you move, cough, or sneeze
  • Stage 4: Postdrome – after the headache ends, many people feel tired, weak, or even confused for up to 24 hours after the fact 

Oral Bacteria and Migraines 

In recent years, there have been more studies focusing on the link that oral bacteria could play in those who suffer from migraines. Many who suffer from a migraine headache often have triggers, like food or caffeine, that can spring the headache on them after they are consumed. 

Researchers have found that, in migraine sufferers, there is a significant more amount of microbes that break down nitrates found in certain foods. CBC explains that these bacteria play a crucial role in processing nitrates so they can be converted into nitric oxide in the bloodstream. This process widens blood vessels and improves circulation. The link to migraines here is that, though this process is good for the cardiovascular system, the abundance of these bacteria can break down nitrates more quickly. When this happens, blood vessels in the brain and scalp dilate, which triggers the migraine. 

Many doctors recommend avoiding processed foods because of this, in hopes that patients can avoid the recurrence of migraine headaches.

Removing Oral Bacteria

Some bacteria are healthy and needed within the body, however, there are many types of bacteria that aren’t needed or good for you. The mouth can contain more than 700 species of bacteria. Some of this bacteria helps keep your mouth healthy and helps you break down food, however, some bacteria can cause tooth decay, gum disease, or even migraines. 

To remove oral bacteria, you need to have a good, consistent dental hygiene routine. This routine should include:

  • Brushing twice a day, two minutes each time. This will help prevent plaque buildup, which can quickly load your mouth full of bacteria if not removed. When plaque isn’t cleaned off the teeth, tartar can form. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist. 
  • Floss once a day. Flossing can help get into those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth and remove food and debris that could be holding onto bacteria. 
  • Rinse with mouthwash. If your mouth doesn’t feel as clean as you like after brushing your teeth, add a mouthwash into your routine. This can help kill bacteria and protect your teeth’s enamel. 
  • Watch what you eat. Foods and drinks loaded with sugar can cause excess bacteria. Bacteria in the mouth thrive and grow on sugar, so when you eat sweets your mouth is building a habitat for bacteria to thrive. 
  • See your dentist regularly. Your dentist and their team can deep clean your mouth and help keep plaque and tartar at bay so your mouth doesn’t hold onto more bacteria than it needs. Plaque and tartar can be hard to see, but dentists are trained to look out for them and can get the build up off your teeth so you leave with a fresh mouth (and hopefully headache-free). 

Make an Appointment with Dr. Ania

If you suffer from migraines and believe it could be due to oral bacteria, come in and see Dr. Ania. Dr. Ania and her team are trained to look out for the harmful bacteria that could be lurking in your mouth, and can remove it at once. Make an appointment online or call today at: (303)-872-9940. 

 

Dr. Ania Mohelicki
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Dr. Ania Mohelicki

All stories by: Dr. Ania Mohelicki