Can Sinus Infection Cause Tooth Pain? The answer is yes. After an acute infection, many people feel the pain and tenderness in the upper tooth. This occurs when the infection involves the maxillary sinus, located in our cheekbones and due to the congestion pain is often referred to the maxillary teeth, especially the molar teeth. The sinus infection related toothache subsides once the infection subsides. If a person has chronic sinusitis or has allergies, the referred toothache occurs with every episode.
In few instances, infection from a maxillary tooth can invade the maxillary sinus. In such cases, surgical intervention might be necessary. Neti Pot helps cleanse sinuses.
You can use essential oils such as peppermint or eucalyptus oil in a hydrated and inhale them via steam. Spicy food such as wasabi, horseradish, and mustard also helps provide relief from congestion. Propping your upper body while sleeping will prevent congestion.
Let us understand in detail about the sinus infections, how they can be diagnosed and cured.
What are sinuses?
Sinus is hollow spaces in our bones around the nasal passage. Our skull has four sinuses, and they are all interconnected. The space between our eyes hold the ethmoid sinus, and the sphenoid sinus lies behind the bones of the nose.
Our cheekbones hold in the maxillary sinus, the center of our forehead contains the frontal sinus. Our sinuses are typically filled with air. This helps lighten the weight of your skull and improve the voices.
The primary function of the sinus is to produce mucous to hydrate the nasal lining. This mucous forms a protective layer protecting the nose from pollutants, dirt particles, dust, foreign objects, and microorganisms.
How does the sinus get infected?
When a person gets bacterial or viral infection pertaining to flu, it can spread to the sinuses and cause infection of the sinus lining (1). Flu can also trigger sinusitis.
If the flu is due to viral infection, it generally lasts for up to a week and can recover on its own. Bacterial infection in sinusitis can last for over ten days and usually require an antibiotic innervation to treat it.
Allergies like hay fever can also trigger sinusitis as the allergens cause inflammation of the sinus lining (2). People with allergies usually develop nasal polyps that can lead to chronic sinusitis. The nasal polyps on irritation with allergens can irritate the sinus lining triggering the symptoms.
In certain conditions, the cilia which line the nasal cavity is unable to perform the normal function. The movement of mucus in and out of the cavity is hampered leading to sinusitis.
Dental infection can also cause sinus lining inflammation. In case of communication of oral and antral space(maxillary sinus) after tooth extraction, the person will suffer from acute sinusitis till the fistula is operated (5). Abscess from a posterior maxillary tooth can cross the barrier and enter the sinus space leading to sinusitis.
- People traveling on high altitudes or undertaking adventure sports like scuba diving can also develop sinusitis.
- Conditions such as asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disorder also lead to sinusitis.
- Sinusitis is a commonly observed in smokers (6).
- People who are immunocompromised, like those suffering from HIV infection, people undergoing chemotherapy have also shown incidences of a sinus infection (7).
Symptoms of sinus infections
Sinus symptoms can vary in chronic and acute sinusitis, but many of the symptoms remain the same.
- Thick discharge from the nose.
- Nasal blockage and continuous post nasal dripping (8).
- Congestion and Cough are associated with sinusitis.
- A constant headache characteristic to sinusitis.
- The pressure around the forehead, the nose is felt.
- Fatigue and Irritability due to fever.
- Bad breath in case of bacterial infection
- Nasal polyps are seen in people with chronic sinusitis.
- Dull continuous toothache(9).
How to identify the cause of a toothache?
Dental X-rays or an orthopantogram can help determine the cause of a toothache. Alternatively, it can also help determine whether the cause of sinusitis is an oroantral fistula or infection from an upper molar tooth.
Various tests can be undertaken to identify the cause of the sinus infection. Sinusitis often mimic the symptoms of common cold and flu.
A health care provider will examine any signs of nasal polyps, and transillumination test will be performed to see any signs of inflammation.
Nasal endoscopy and rhinoscopy can also be done to diagnose sinusitis. Sweat chloride test is done to diagnose cystic fibrosis which can be leading to sinus infection.
Allergy tests, ciliary function test, nasal cytology, nasal culture tests are done to determine the cause of sinusitis.
Imaging tests such as CT scan will help get a clear picture of the sinus. An MRI can also be performed to eliminate any signs of fungal infection or tumors.
Methods to relieve sinus tooth pain –
Treating the sinus infection will help clear the congestion and blockage thus reducing the pressure on tooth nerves. Let’s see ways to relieve sinus tooth pain.
1. Neti pot
Neti pot is a device which helps clean the maxillary sinus by the method of nasal irrigation. The use of Neti pot has been prevalent for a long time, and the therapeutic benefits of this method have been proven effective.
Neti pot helps alleviate congestion and facial pain, toothache, and pressure associated with sinus infection. A saline solution is passed through the neti pot inside our nose which helps increase the speed and improve the coordination of cilia (10).
This effectively helps remove the allergens and irritants that could cause sinusitis.
2. Essential oil
Essential oils have been proven to give great symptomatic relief in sinusitis in conjunction with therapeutic benefits. Peppermint oil has antiviral antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps in clearing sinus infections.
Sweet basil has analgesic and antispasmodic benefits. It can be added to a vaporizer or humidifier, and the steam can be inhaled. It will provide instant relief from a headache and pain.
Eucalyptus can be used with menthol oil, and it will help clear the sinuses. They are best taken through steam inhalation.
Spices such as wasabi, mustard, horseradish, hot peppers have proven beneficial in clearing up the sinuses. The spice has mucus thinning properties, that will help release the pressure from congestion.
The spices can also be added to the bone broth which will help improve the immunity to fight off the infection.
4. Prop up your head
While resting or during bedtime, keep your head in a propped, tilted position with the support of pillows. Laying straight horizontally can cause blockage and continued pressure. Sleeping with your upper body slightly propped up helps avoid congestion.
- Suggested read: Best Sleeping Positions for Different Medical Problems
Over to you on sinus tooth pain
Sinus infections can cause a toothache, especially in the upper molar teeth. In case of common cold and flu, the toothache will disappear after the infection subsides. If a toothache persists, consult your dentist.
People with chronic sinusitis deviated septum and allergies can have a radiating toothache due to congestion and pressure from sinus blockage. Consult your doctor and get a treatment done for the same.
If a communication develops better the oral cavity and the antral cavity of maxillary sinus a surgery can be required.