Spring Has Sprung. Sinus Infections Lead to Sinus Toothaches.

As Houston residents enjoy the beauty of spring, they also suffer from high pollen counts. Did you know that in March 2020, Houston ranked number one for the highest pollen counts in the country? If you have a pollen allergy, then that explains why you are feeling less than your best.

Unfortunately, if you are prone to allergies, then you likely are also prone to sinus infections. Since sinus infections (or sinusitis) can also affect your teeth, we are taking time today to explain the key symptoms to help you determine if that is what is causing the pain you’re feeling in your teeth, and whether or not it is time to call your Houston dentist.

What Is A Sinus Infection?

To understand what a sinus infection is, you must first understand your sinuses. Your sinuses “are a connected system of hollow cavities in the skull.” Ultimately, your sinuses work to humidify air naturally. However, when the sinus passages are infected, they do not work like they should, which is why you may sometimes feel stuffy or like you “can’t breathe” through your nose.

A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is “an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses.” When the sinus passages become blocked and filled with fluid, this causes infection. Common colds and allergic reactions are typical causes of sinus infections. During the spring, when people are suffering from allergic reactions to the things blooming, sinus infections are more common.

What Causes Sinus Infections?

Baylor College of Medicine explains, “Sinus infections occur when mucus in the sinuses is not able to drain appropriately, causing the secretions to accumulate, which makes the mucus more likely to become infected. If an individual suffers from a cold or allergies, sinuses can become inflamed and are unable to drain.” When this happens, it can cause an infection.

Common Symptoms of Sinus Infections

Sinus infections have a variety of symptoms that affect your facial bones and the areas connected to your sinuses. Generally, sinus infections will share symptoms with common colds and nasal allergies, such as head congestion, a runny or stuffy nose, or a cough. Additionally, as sinus passages are blocked, it can cause sinus pressure, which leads to facial pain.

Healthline lists the following as additional symptoms of sinus infections:

  • pressure or tenderness around your nose, eyes, or forehead
  • thick, discolored mucus
  • nasal drip
  • ear pain
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • sore throat
  • hoarse voice

Sinus Infections Cause Mouth Problems

But that’s not all. Sinus infections can cause other problems affecting your mouth. For example, as sinus passages become blocked and infected, you may lose the sense of smell and taste. Sinus infections can also cause halitosis or bad breath.

Plus, sinus infections cause dry mouth. Crest claims, “One of the possible side effects from a sinus infection is that you may start breathing through your mouth. Mouth breathing promotes a dry mouth, and a dry mouth can increase your risk of dental health problems.” Prolonged dry mouth can cause issues like tooth decay and gingivitis.

Sinus Tooth Pain Is Real

Along with facial pain and pressure and other mouth issues, sinus infections do cause tooth pain. Medical News Today explains, “The sinuses, teeth, and gums all share similar nerves that can transmit pain signals. Inflammation due to sinus infection or dental disease can press on these nerves, leading to pain. A person may interpret these signals as dental pain.” Moreover, you don’t have to have a major sinus infection to suffer from sinus tooth pain. Your teeth may hurt when you have a bad cold or are suffering from sinus congestion.

The Difference Between Sinus Tooth Pain and Regular Tooth Pain

However, you should not just assume that your toothache is a cause of sinus issues. There are many other potential causes of tooth pain. One way to distinguish between sinus tooth pain and regular tooth pain is to see if you are experiencing any other common sinus infection symptoms, such as nasal congestion.

In contrast, if your pain seems to be from one specific tooth rather than several teeth, you may be dealing with another dental issue. Additionally, sinus toothache tends to change depending on your body’s movements whereas a different type of toothache is persistent. Also, if you notice any swelling of the face or gums, you are dealing with a more serious dental problem and need to contact your Houston dental practice as soon as possible.

Sinus Tooth Pain Relief

Generally, you can treat a sinus infection at home with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and decongestants. You should also drink plenty of water. As Healthline explains, “This helps to thin mucus and reduce pressure and blockages in your sinuses.”

When it comes to alleviating sinus tooth pain, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever. You may also find relief with hot and cold therapy. Alternate using a heating pad and a cold compress on the pain area for 15-minute segments.

If you have a serious sinus infection that does not go away on its own, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

Other Possible Causes of Tooth Pain

Some dental issues can mimic sinus pain, but here are some basic ways to rule out sinus tooth pain.

  • If the pain is radiating from one tooth only, then it is most likely not due to a sinus infection. You may have tooth decay or a fractured tooth near your sinuses.
  • Tooth grinding can cause similar tooth pain.
  • The early stages of gum disease can mimic sinus tooth pain.

Dental Infections Can Cause Sinus Infections

Another issue to be aware of is dental infections. Since our teeth are located so close to our sinuses, dental infections can spread to the sinuses. For example, one study found “40% of chronic maxillary sinus infections were due to dental infections.” In these cases, the tooth infection must be treated as well as the sinus infection.

When to Call Greenspoint Dental in Houston

If you are experiencing tooth pain, schedule an appointment with our Houston dental care team to find the cause, and provide relief.