Headache after Tooth Extraction – Causes and Management

The outpatient procedure of tooth extraction (also known as dental extraction) is usually associated with a headache, which is never insignificant. However, it may vary in intensity that ranges from moderate to severe depending upon the procedure performed.  Teeth are extracted by removing them from their sockets in the alveolar bone. Wisdom tooth (3rd molar tooth), if present, also requires surgical removal if it gets infected or decayed.

Symptoms of a tooth extraction Headache

Tooth extraction usually results in cluster headaches in the periorbital, supraorbital and temporal regions. Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision.

These may be accompanied by autonomic conditions including:

  • Ipsilateral miosis (same-sided excessive contractions of the pupil of the eye)
  • Lacrimation (flow of tears)
  • Conjunctival infection
  • Nasal congestion
  • Rhinorrhea (runny nose).

Tooth extraction headaches usually last for a few days.

Causes of tooth extraction headache

  • Tightening of head muscles during the procedure causes muscle cramps. Tension in the facial muscles during a tooth extraction results in pain that may spread from the head to the jaws.
  • Tooth extraction procedure generally requires local, general, or venous anesthesia. Post-surgical indications may include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, or lightheadedness.
  • Increased dental extraction fear causes the facial muscles to become taut, owing to a fright. This may result in increased pain and headache.
  • Underlying infection or pus around the surgical area may result in a headache.

What may trigger a headache after tooth extraction?

  • Tooth extraction procedure may be followed by infection or swelling in the alveolar socket. This may trigger a headache.
  • Tension, fatigue, stress, and workload may also trigger a tooth extraction headache.
  • An untreated pus or infection may also lead to life-threatening conditions, often resulting in a severe headache.
  • Food intake immediately after tooth extraction.

Management of tooth extraction headache


Tooth extraction surgery is often followed by headaches that may vary in intensity and may often accompany symptoms including dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting.


  • Over the counter pain killers (paracetamol) and anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen) are recommended. Depending upon the intensity of pain, your medical practitioner may prescribe high-potency painkillers.
  • Use of an antiseptic mouthwash is recommended.
  • If infection or pus develops after the surgery, antibiotics are recommended.
  • Rhinorrhea and other symptoms are treated and wiped out by drinking plenty of water.


It is common for post-surgical headaches owing to anesthesia and increased muscle stretch, though it can be reduced by avoiding stress, fear, and tension. Avoid and limit the use of alcohol and smoking.

Home remedies

  • Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Rinse your mouth with lukewarm salt water
  • Hydrate yourself frequently
  • Avoid hard and sticky foods. Consume soft and liquid foods.

When to consult a doctor?

After getting your outpatient tooth extraction procedure from your dental surgeon, you are free to leave with your prescribed drugs, though you may need to consult back if you:

  • Start developing pus or infection in the surgical area
  • Have pyrexia (fever) after your operation
  • Other serious symptoms like severe or throbbing pain days after your treatment.


Is it normal to have a headache after tooth extraction?

Headache after a tooth extraction is common and may occur due to anesthesia or facial muscle tension. You may also develop sinus headaches which are common.

How many days of pain is normal after tooth extraction?

Tooth extraction is usually followed by a headache that may last for days after the surgery. You may need to take painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce soreness and associated headache.

Can I go to work the next day after the tooth extraction?

It is recommended to take rest for after the tooth extraction procedure for a day at least to avoid developing conditions like fever and increased stress inflammation. Driving a car after getting general anesthesia during the surgery is highly unrecommended.

Is it OK to talk after tooth extraction?

Try to limit talk as moving the tongue and associated muscles during the speech may disturb the clot and hence, the healing process.

Can I drink coffee after tooth extraction?

Drinking coffee after the surgery is unrecommended. This may disturb the clotting process resulting in dry sockets causing discomfort and pain. You may start drinking coffee 5 days after your procedure.

Last medically reviewed on October 27, 2022.