Can a sinus infection make my teeth hurt?
Winter is here. And with it come colds, sinus infections, and the flu. It is very common for dentists to see an increase in “toothaches” during this season. We put “toothaches” in quotes because while the tooth definitely aches, it is not a tooth problem. Many patients will call us with a toothache and come in for an evaluation, only to be told that the tooth is perfectly fine.
Why does sinus pressure make my teeth hurt?
The natural anatomy of our upper teeth, jawbones and sinus cavities predisposes us to this problem. The maxillary sinus cavities are large, air-filled spaces located just inside our cheekbones. They extend inward toward the nose and downward toward the upper teeth. Often the jawbone separating our upper teeth from the above sinus cavity is extremely thin.
The sinus cavities are supposed to be empty. These air-filled spaces allow for the passage of air as we breathe and lighten the weight of our skull so that we can hold our heads up. Anyone who has ever experienced sinus congestion knows that it can be hard to breathe and make your head feel heavy.
When the sinuses are filled instead of empty, pressure is created in that bone-encased space. Many people feel this pressure inside their cheekbones or under their eyes. Many also feel this pressure on their upper molars and premolars. The nerves that supply sensation and feeling to our teeth enter the tooth at the very tip of its root. Many upper molars’ roots protrude up into the sinus cavity. When there is an increase in pressure in the sinus, it can cause sensitivity, soreness or just a plain old toothache.
What symptoms are commonly associated with sinus pressure toothaches?
- Because the toothaches associated with sinus cavities are caused by an increase in pressure, anything that changes the pressure would change the pain in the tooth. Things like the impact of running or jumping and tossing your head upside down to blow-dry your hair will affect the pain of a toothache caused by sinus pressure.
- Because of the pressure on the tooth’s nerves, the teeth may be more sensitive to cold air or liquids.
- The increase in pressure on the roots of the teeth also causes a soreness or tenderness when chewing, grinding, or tapping on the side of the tooth.
What can I do about it?
First of all, you should rule out any problems with your teeth. If you haven’t seen a dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit to have the tooth or teeth evaluated.
If you have been seen regularly by your dentist and know that you have no cavities or other problems with your teeth, you may want to begin by treating your sinus pressure. Take over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines. If these do not help, you should see your medical doctor to treat your sinus condition, allergies, cold or flu.
Many patients have experienced this multiple times and are able to recognize it as a sinus problem and not a tooth problem. If you’re not sure, come see us anyway. When in doubt, rule a real toothache out!
Have a toothache that could be from sinus pressure?
Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!. They will do a thorough evaluation of the area that is bothering you and distinguish between a tooth problem and a sinus problem.