How can a toothache be related to the sinus?
When you have a toothache, the important piece of information that helps to determine its cause is to know the nature of the dental pain. One type of toothache is actually not coming from the teeth at all. It is a sinus toothache, which originates in the sinuses. A sinus toothache can mimic a toothache of dental origin closely enough to make it tricky to pinpoint where it is coming from. Therefore, it is essential to be able to differentiate between sinus pain and dental pain, even though sinus pain can manifest as a toothache.
What are sinuses and how can they become a source of dental pain?
The sinuses are hollow areas in the facial bones with a membranous lining which produces mucus. In the case of allergies or infection, the membranes swell and the sinuses become blocked and fill with mucus. This causes sinus congestion and pain. The sinus pain may be referred to the nearby teeth by a common nerve supply, or the swollen sinuses may put pressure on the roots of the teeth, which are present near the base of the sinus. This pressure can irritate the teeth and cause dental pain.
What are the causes of sinus pain felt in the tooth?
There are many different conditions which can lead to a toothache caused by inflammation in the sinus. These conditions can range from a cold or flu, allergic rhinitis, air pollution, a blockage in the nose, or an infection of the airways. A dental abscess in the upper teeth can also cause the nearby sinuses to become inflamed and produce sinus toothache. A dental procedure such as a dental implant, if placed incorrectly, can irritate the sinuses and cause an infection, which can lead to sinus toothache.
How to make sure whether it is a sinus toothache or not?
As a sinus toothache feels very similar to a toothache of dental origin, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. There are some distinguishing factors that point towards the pain originating from the sinuses, so these are some important points to look out for:
- Common symptoms: Some symptoms are common to both types of pain, such as facial swelling or tenderness, which may also be present in toothache of dental origin.
- Having a cold: If you feel like you have a toothache while you have a cold, it may be that the cold is causing inflammation in the sinuses and causing dental pain as well.
- Pain increasing due to sudden shift in position of the head: The pain of a sinus toothache is aggravated by a change in position of the head. If you feel like the dental pain starts throbbing when you suddenly sit up from a lying position or some similar movement, then it may be evidence that the dental pain is actually sinus pain.
- Generalized toothache instead of localized to one tooth: If you can’t pinpoint which tooth the pain is coming from, and several teeth appear to be painful, it may indicate sinus toothache.
- Confusion due to the presence of dental decay in the area of the sinus toothache: In some cases, there may be a confusing factor such as the presence of recurrent dental decay around an existing restoration, or dental decay in the area of the sinus toothache. In this case, it is the dentist’s job to rule out sinus toothache by checking for signs and symptoms of sinus inflammation as well as checking the dental decay thoroughly.
What happens upon confirmation of sinus toothache
Once the dentist confirms that it is a case of sinus pain, a proper referral to a medical specialist is made so that the cause of the problem can be treated. It is important to differentiate between toothache of dental origin and toothache originating from the sinus, as a mix-up can cause delay in treatment while the dentist tries to solve the problem through dental restorations, which are actually not required in the case of a sinus toothache.
How to manage a sinus toothache
There are many different things you can do in the time you have between the dentist confirming your sinus pain and the appointment with the medical specialist. It may be that the dentist prescribes antibiotics to help with the infection in the time period leading up to your appointment with the medical specialist. In any case, there are some steps you can take at home to help alleviate the pain of sinus toothache through symptomatic relief.
- Over the counter medication: Antihistamines and decongestants can help relieve the pain by reducing the mucus flow in the sinuses and reducing the blockage and pressure in the sinuses. You may also take over the counter painkillers to reduce the pain of sinus toothache.
- Home remedies you can use: You can use the tried and tested steam inhalation technique at home. Just make sure to use it in a proper manner and keep your head at the right distance from the steaming water. The steam inhalation helps to open up your nasal passages and drain the sinuses, which relieves the built-up pressure inside them which causes the pain.
- Avoid chewing on the side of the mouth that hurts: You can avoid aggravating the pain by chewing on the opposite side of the mouth from the side that hurts. This will help by not putting pressure on the teeth which are related to the sinus that is inflamed.
Disclaimers regarding sinus toothache
There are two things to keep in mind regarding sinus toothache. The first is that if the sinus inflammation clears up and the toothache persists, it may be of dental origin after all. In this case, you need to consult a dentist regarding the matter. The second thing to keep in mind is that you need to get an appointment with a dentist or a medical professional as soon as possible to get yourself checked, in order to get the issue treated in the earliest stage possible. You do not want to wait until it develops complications.