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Face Symptoms

I have a sharp pain in my face. Could there be a dental-related cause?

General pain in your face can be caused by a variety of conditions, some of which are related to, or directly associated with the teeth and jaws. This is because many of the nerves that supply sensation to the teeth, gums and jaws pass through, or beneath the tissues of the face.

Possible dental-related causes

There are many dental conditions that can cause general face pain, including acute apical abscesses; lateral periodontal abscesses; phoenix abscesses; cracked teeth; jaw cysts; jaw tumors; tooth decay; irreversible pulpitis; myalgia, trigeminal neuralgia; oral cancers (late stage); tooth grinding; TMJ disorders; and sinus infections.

Migraine headaches

Face pain can also be caused by migraine headaches, which have been associated with a number of factors, including use or withdrawal of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco; ingestion of certain processed foods, baked goods, nuts and dairy products; ingestion of foods containing the amine compound, “tyramine,” or nitrates. Changes in altitude and exposure to bright light may exacerbate migraine headaches.


Varicella zoster virus infections (also known as shingles or Herpes zoster) may also be accompanied by facial pain, along with its other symptoms. Zoster infections arise in people who have had chickenpox earlier in life. When symptoms of the primary chickenpox illness resolve, the virus becomes dormant, residing without symptoms in certain nerve pathways until reactivation later in life. It is not clear why zoster infections reoccur, but frequently they only reoccur once.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on June 17, 2016.

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