Our teeth and our sinus cavities are interconnected anatomically. Our sinus cavities are a series of hollow chambers that air passes thru before it gets to your lungs. The purpose of the sinuses is still unclear. One theory is that sinuses help humidify the air we breathe in and another is that they enhance our voices. Whatever, the purpose our sinus cavities can cause is trouble. Bacteria can get out of control and cause an infection. In some situations, a sinus infection can feel like a toothache. It is less common but a dental abssess or infection can affect your sinuses and this can have deadly consequences.
Difference Between Sinus Pain And A Toothache
Tooth decay and dental infections are generally issues caused by your teeth. But it is important to remember that the maxillary sinus can be in close proximity to your upper teeth. So issues with your maxillary sinus can mimic a toothache. This is especially true during the winter months. A recent cold or flu will cause pressure in the head with a common symptom of feeling a tooth pain when the person walks around or moves their head. A simple way to figure it out is to take a dental radiograph.
It will generally show a healthy tooth with a cloudy sinus. Sinus infections (sinusitis) may be treated a variety of different ways including humidifiers, nasal sprays, antibiotics, or decongestants. However, toothaches could point to something serious so it is best to make sure nothing serious is present by consulting with your dentist first.
Symptoms Of Sinusitis
Sinusitis is most often caused by a virus and often lasts long after the other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. Rarely, fungus or bacteria may cause a sinus infection. Allergies, nasal polyps, a tooth infection, and a deviated septum are other ways in which sinusitis may be triggered.
-Chronic vs. Acute Infection. Sinusitis is considered acute if it lasts for only a short time period. An acute infection is usually part of a common cold or allergies. If your sinus infection continues for more than eight weeks, or continues to reoccur, the sinusitis is considered a chronic infection. The symptoms between the two often overlap. It is best to get treatment by your physician if you are unsure.
-Pain. This is the most common symptom of sinusitis. Inflammation and swelling in the sinuses can cause them to ache with a very dull pressure. The pain can radiate into your forehead, sides of the nose, upper jaws and teeth, or even around your eyes.
-Sinus Discharge. When sinusitis is present you may notice a greenish-yellow discharge. This is your sinuses draining into your nasal passages. This discharge can also drain down your throat. The term for this is postnasal drip.
-Congestion. The infection will lead to a build up of swelling and mucus in your nasal passages. This will restrict your breathing making you feel uncomfortable and short of breath. Another cause is a reduced sense of smell and taste.
-Headache. The constant pressure and swelling in your sinus cavities can leave you with a massive headache. Sinus headaches can also radiate into your ears, show up as toothaches, and pain in your jaws. Sinus headaches are usually the worst in the morning because fluids have built up all night long. You may also experience a worsening of the headache when the temperature changes suddenly.
-Cough. As the discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can irritate the lining of your throat, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough. A sinus cough is particularly aggravating because it tends to be worse at night, making sleeping difficult. Sleeping in an upright position can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.
-Sore Throat. That irritating postnasal drip and cough can leave you with a raw and aching throat. Although it may start as an annoying tickle, it can and usually does get worse. If your infection lasts for a few weeks or more, the mucus can irritate and inflame your throat as it drips, resulting in a painful sore throat.
Seek Dental Advice
A simple dental x-ray can be the easiest way to determine the source of your pain (a toohache vs a sinus infection). If you notice changes within your sinuses or tooth pain see your dentist immediately. Getting a toothache or sinus infection under control as soon as possible will help keep you healthy and pain free.