Toothaches can cause unbearable pain and, in most cases, are caused by tooth decay and infection. But the fact is, toothaches can occur when there is nothing wrong with the tooth. The roots of your upper teeth sit just underneath your sinus cavities. When you have sinus inflammation or a sinus infection, the increased pressure that builds up in these cavities can put pressure on the roots of your teeth, causing what feels like a toothache.
So how do you know if you have a sinus infection or dental decay, and what can you do to ease the pain? Here we look at how to tell the difference and how to relieve sinus tooth pain.
- Sinus tooth pain and tooth pain from dental decay can be very similar, but there are ways to determine if the pain you are experiencing is from dental decay or your sinuses.
- Sinus tooth pain affects the upper molars, often more than one at a time. In addition, a sinus toothache will be accompanied by additional symptoms, such as pain in the eyes and forehead and the presence of mucus.
- Even if you think your tooth pain is sinus related, it is always recommended to visit your dentist any time you experience tooth pain or other dental problems.
What is sinus tooth pain?
You have four sinus cavities located behind your eyes, cheekbones, and forehead. Their job is to provide moisture and warm up the air you breathe in and out while keeping dust and debris from entering the lungs. When sinus cavities become irritated or infected, pressure and congestion build up, pushing against the roots of the upper molars, causing pain and sinus problems.
Sinus pain vs. sinus tooth pain vs. regular toothache
So, how do you know if you are experiencing sinus pain, sinus tooth pain, or a regular toothache? Sinus pain, or sinus headaches, often occur with a sinus infection, known as sinusitis. You will typically feel pain and pressure around the cheeks, eyes, and forehead. As the infection worsens and the pressure increases, you may begin to feel pain and pressure in your upper molars. With sinus tooth pain, you will typically feel pain in multiple teeth and can often experience tooth pain on both sides of the jaw.
In contrast, a regular toothache due to tooth decay typically only affects one tooth and, aside from the presence of an abscess, usually doesn’t cause any additional symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of a sinus toothache
If your tooth pain is due to sinus inflammation, you will likely have additional symptoms that can include:
- Pain and pressure in multiple upper jaw teeth
- Nasal drip or congestion
- Pain in the ears
- Pressure around the cheeks, eyes, and forehead
- A sore throat
- Increased mucus production
- Productive cough
- Bad breath
- A mild fever
1. Drink lots of fluids.
In many cases, sinus inflammation and pressure occur due to a buildup of mucus. Making sure you are hydrated can help thin the mucus and reduce pressure, helping to relieve the tooth pain you may be experiencing.
2. Try steam or add a humidifier.
Dry air can irritate the sinuses and make the symptoms of a sinus infection even worse. Running a hot shower and sitting in the room, breathing in the steam can help thin and loosen mucus while also moisturizing and calming down the sinus cavities and airways. If you are running your heater during the winter or you live in a dry climate, the air in your home may be dry. Adding a humidifier adds moisture to the air and helps relieve sinusitis symptoms.
3. Eat inflammation-reducing foods.
Certain foods offer natural inflammation-reducing properties. Adding these foods to your diet can help bring down inflammation and reduce pain. Anti-inflammatory foods can include tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, berries, avocados, peppers, green tea, grapes, turmeric, and extra virgin olive oil.
4. Eat spicy foods.
Have you ever eaten a spicy meal only to find your nose running? You are not the only one. The fact is, gustatory rhinitis, or the sudden onset of a watery nasal discharge, occurs when the spices found in certain spicy foods stimulate the trigeminal sensory nerve. If you have sinus inflammation, eating spicy foods can help thin the mucus and reduce pressure.
5. Increase rest.
When you experience an infection of any kind, your body needs rest in order to fight it. Make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep and rest when needed.
8. Administer a saline solution.
Rinsing your sinuses with a saline solution can help clear your nasal passages of discharge while also moisturizing the irritated sinus tissue causing sinus pressure and tooth pain.
9. Change your head position.
Oftentimes, sinus pressure increases or decreases with the change of position. For example, when you sleep, sinus pressure and pain often worsen at night. To help reduce this pressure, it is recommended to sleep with the head propped up as it allows sinus drainage, which, in turn, reduces the build-up of pressure in the sinus cavities and can provide pain relief.
10. Address congestion.
If you are suffering from a cold or infection that is causing sinus congestion, addressing this congestion is often the best way to reduce sinus pressure on your teeth. An over-the-counter expectorant can help thin the mucus while a decongestant helps open up the airways and allow for better breathing and less pressure.
When to see your doctor or dentist?
Any time you experience tooth pain, it is always recommended that you see your dentist. If you suspect your toothache is from sinus pressure, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. In many cases, they can prescribe medications to help clear out your sinuses and treat any potential infections contributing to your sinus tooth pain.
You don’t have to live with tooth pain.
If you suspect sinus tooth pain, seeing your doctor first may be your best course of action. However, if you are experiencing tooth pain and are unsure, the team at New Leaf Rohnert Park can help identify dental decay or other dental concerns that may be contributing to your discomfort and help relieve your pain while helping you achieve optimal oral health and a beautiful smile. Visit us today to schedule an appointment.