What Is the Connection Between Sinuses and Tooth Pain?

Steam and other home remedies may help alleviate a toothache caused by a sinus infection.
Sinus problems may lead to tooth pain.
Sinus pressure can radiate to the jaw and teeth causing toothaches.
Article Details
  • Written By: Henry Gaudet
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Inflammation of the sinuses and tooth pain often coincide. Sinus pressure, particularly in the maxillary sinuses, can cause pain to radiate to the jaw and teeth, and might be experienced as a toothache. A patient who has a sinus infection might experience dental pain and assume that the problem lies in the mouth, completely overlooking the actual cause.

The maxillary sinuses are hollows in the skull situated just above the upper, or maxillary, teeth. These sinuses lie very close to the upper teeth, separated from the roots by only a thin layer of bone tissue. Nerves running to these roots pass through a trough along the lining of the sinuses.

Irritation of the sinuses cause the membranes to produce fluid in the sinus cavity. When the soft tissues of the other sinuses or the nasal passages are irritated, this fluid drains away as postnasal drip. Drainage for the maxillary sinuses, however, does not lie at the bottom of the cavity, meaning that fluid will collect in the base of the sinuses. Fluid not only creates pressure within the sinuses, it also can irritate the surrounding soft tissue. Irritated tissues swell, further increasing pressure in the sinuses.

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Pressure can cause pain to the sinuses directly, but teeth can be affected as well. The nerve running to the teeth gets squeezed by pressure in the sinuses and pain in the teeth is the result. The brain, sensing only that the nerve to the teeth is registering pain, cannot tell that the source of the pain lies further up the nerve.

When a patient reports blocked sinuses and tooth pain, sinus infection is the most likely cause. Tooth pain caused by sinus infection will be a dull ache across the upper teeth, and it might affect the jaw as well. Sinus pain and other symptoms of sinusitis will often, but not always, accompany this tooth pain.

Patients experiencing inflamed or infected sinuses and tooth pain usually will need to see a doctor. Antibiotics are often required to fight the infection. Allergy medication, decongestants and nasal irrigation might also be recommended, depending on the cause of the inflammation.

Infection of a maxillary tooth might also cause an irritation of the maxillary sinuses. Infected teeth are most likely the result of poor oral hygiene and an avoidance of professional dental care. When the infection reaches the tooth’s root, it might also spread to surrounding tissues, including the sinus membranes. Left untreated, the patient will experience repeatedly infected sinuses and tooth pain.

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Brutus
Post 6

I have been experiencing a throbbing pain in an incisor for over two years. This usually moves up to my face and left temple. My dentist assured me that it was a sinus infection, since the root had calcified. He treated me with antibiotics several times and the symptoms went away, although a feeling of pressure remained in that tooth.

After a CT scan of my sinuses was negative, I went to see an oral surgeon. His technology was able to reveal an abscess instantly and he performed an apicoectomy (end root resection). The moral of the story is that you know your body and the pain that is occurring. If you can't get a satisfactory resolution to your problem, see an endodontist.

anon293831
Post 5

I am having this issue right now. The pain is so intense that I was on the floor in the pharmacy crying trying to get my pain meds filled.

I have been on antibiotics for three full days now. I had surgery on my sinuses last year. I am so ready to be over this but it is not looking good.

LisaLou
Post 4

When I got a bad sinus infection, the tooth pain was the last symptom that showed up. Before that I was having a lot of sinus pain and pressure around my nose and eyes.

This was accompanied a few days later by a throbbing headache. After about a week of not doing anything about it, all of my teeth started to ache.

I decided I had enough and finally went to the doctor. He told me there is often a connection between your sinuses and teeth.

This is easy for me to understand because I know that the condition of your teeth can tell a lot about your overall general health. If you teeth are hurting and in pain, many times there is a physical cause for this.

Mykol
Post 3

If someone had tooth pain because of a sinus infection, I wonder if any of the home remedies for tooth pain would help?

Whenever my grandpa had tooth pain, he swore that putting a clove of garlic on the tooth would make the pain go away.

I don't know if I could handle the taste of that much garlic in my mouth. I have never tried this myself and always call me dentist when I am having any tooth pain.

I know a lot of home remedies that work, and wonder if something like this would work for tooth pain from a sinus infection? If you could handle it, it would at least be worth a try since you wouldn't be out much money.

golf07
Post 2

@John57 - I made an appointment with my dentist because of severe tooth pain, and I found out it was from a sinus infection.

My dentist told me I needed to see a doctor to get it cleared up. This was the first time I realized there was such a close connection between your teeth and your sinuses.

This was the first time I had a sinus infection - that I knew about anyway. I didn't know quite what to expect, but was surprised that my symptoms showed up in my teeth.

I ended up going on antibiotics to clear up the infection. As soon as the sinus infection cleared up, my tooth pain went away!

John57
Post 1

I find it interesting that sinus infection and tooth pain are so closely related.

I can understand how a sinus infection would cause a headache and post nasal drip, but would have never guessed it would cause tooth pain too.

My mom has a lot of sinus problems and has even considered having surgery to correct this problem. Her nose runs constantly because of sinus drainage.

Just the other day I also heard her complain of her teeth hurting. This is something I will have her check out to see if the problems are related.

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