Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Shake My Head?

In Health and Wellness

Possible Causes of Tooth Pain When Shaking My Head

Toothaches and headaches seem to be two of the most maddening types of pain, and unfortunately for some people, they go hand-in-hand. If you experience tooth pain during exercise, when you sneeze, when you shake your head, and during other sudden movements, you are not alone.

A painful feeling at the site of a tooth during activity could be caused by several different underlying conditions. Symptoms of tooth pain might present themselves in ways that are similar to other ailments. We outline what those symptoms look like and their possible causes below.


Symptoms Experienced Alongside Toothaches

A toothache is a pain that occurs in or around a tooth. Experiencing a toothache can be painful and disrupt your focus and day-to-day activities. 

These are some of the other symptoms that can occur alongside tooth pain:


Not only can coughing cause sharp flashes of pain in your tooth, but prolonged episodes can lead to headaches. 

Runny nose

Sinus issues caused by tooth abscesses and bacteria can cause a constant runny nose.


Pain that throbs in both the head and tooth simultaneously is a frequent symptom experienced alongside a toothache. 

Nasal blockage

Nasal blockage, or experiencing a stuffy nose, happens when a toothache is caused by an infection. The sinuses can be clogged on one or both sides and can cause a metallic or musty smell.


Possible Causes of Tooth Pain When Shaking My Head

Tooth pain is often caused by an underlying condition or infection that needs to be treated separately from a dentistry environment. 

The following are possible causes of toothache that is felt during motion:

Sinus Infection

Sinus inflammation is one of the most common illnesses related to tooth pain. Pain in the upper back teeth is a frequent symptom associated with sinusitis. This is because the sinuses are spaces in the skull connected to the nasal cavity. When the tissues in those spaces become inflamed, pain travels down through the nose to the mouth.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, periodontitis, or gingivitis all can cause tooth pain. Serious gum infections can break down the bone that supports the teeth and damage the soft tissue surrounding them. Gum disease is usually the result of poor oral hygiene and can be identified by the swollen, bright red, and tender gums around the tooth that is experiencing pain.


Bruxism is the term used to describe the grinding or clenching of teeth. This often occurs when a person is asleep or unconsciously during the day. When bruxism is frequent enough, it can cause jaw disorders, headaches, teeth damage, and other issues.

TMJ Disorder

The temporomandibular joint is what connects the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorder, or TMD, causes pain at this joint and in the muscles around it during jaw movement. Usually, TMJ pain is temporary, but it can be uncomfortable. TMJ disorder is known for pain that extends up to the ear and causes discomfort while chewing.


Diagnosis of Tooth Pain When Shaking the Head

Difference between sinus pressure and a toothache

The pressure associated with sinusitis can cause toothaches, but tooth pain can also occur separately from sinus infections. 

If you have tooth pain, you should first be screened by a dentist before seeking additional medical advice. Dental causes of toothaches include cavities, gum disease, and other infections in the mouth.

Are there tests to check for sinusitis?

Your dentist may decide that your tooth pain is the result of a sinus infection. Sinus headaches are common symptoms of sinusitis that may require treatment to improve.

These are the ways physicians may screen you for sinusitis:

Nasal endoscopy

Nasal endoscopies are procedures that examine the inside of the nasal and sinus passages. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light at its end. Physicians guide the endoscope through your sinus passages and take photos of the area.

During a nasal endoscopy, doctors are looking for bleeding or swelling of nasal tissue, growths, polyps, and certain types of fluid.

Computed tomography (CT)

CT scans allow for fast, painless, noninvasive, and accurate imaging of the sinuses. This screening test is one of the safest means of studying the sinuses and would prevent irritating the area more.

Radiologists perform these exams using a CT examination table. CT scans reveal fluid, thickened membranes, and the presence of inflammation within the sinus passages.

Allergy testing

Allergies are a common cause of chronic sinusitis. Allergy skin tests are quick ways to detect possible allergens that are irritating your sinuses. Ruling out allergies is one way to move toward finding the cause of frequent sinus toothaches.


When to seek medical attention for tooth pain

If a dental cause for a toothache has been ruled out, it’s time to consult with a physician. Our pain management specialists use trigger point therapeutic injections to alleviate referred pain from muscles that travels to your head or mouth. 

Contact us today to find a specialist near you.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is tooth pain when shaking the head a serious issue?

Tooth pain when shaking the head is commonly associated with sinus inflammation and pressure. It is not usually a serious issue, but can be a frequent nuisance in your daily life.

Can I treat tooth pain when shaking my head at home?

If your tooth pain is caused by a sinus infection, take steps to relieve sinus pressure such as resting, staying hydrated, using a warm compress on your nose and forehead, and rinsing nasal passages with a neti pot.

How can I prevent tooth pain when shaking my head?

If your tooth pain is caused by clenching the jaw or TMJ disorder, you will need to address those conditions in order to prevent the pain from coming back. Other preventable causes of tooth pain from shaking your head include sinus infections, gum disease, and untreated cavities.

Can tooth pain be tied to a serious medical condition?

Tooth pain is usually not tied to a serious medical condition, but it’s important to be properly screened for all potential causes of tooth pain before ruling anything out. Dentists can help with the initial screening, but physicians and certain examinations such as a CT scan may be required for more in-depth testing.

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Holly Self is a Graphic Design Specialist for Physician Partners of America. Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., Physician Partners of America (PPOA) is a fast-growing national healthcare company committed to combatting the opioid crisis through interventional pain management. Founded in 2013 with three employees, it has rapidly grown to more than 500, and manages a wide range of medical practices.

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