4 Non-Dental Illnesses that can Make Your Teeth Hurt

Dr Shreya Ghosh
Shreya has done BDS. She is a dentist with a mission to increase your knowledge about oral health. She will help you to maintain a good oral hygiene and take care of your teeth and gums through one article at a time.

Do your teeth hurt irrespective of no dental infections or problems? Do you feel tooth or jaw pain without any cavity or caries? Do you follow proper oral care regime and still your jaw or teeth hurt? If you feel sick and your teeth hurt without any sign of tooth decay, you should consult your dentist for a deeper insight. Angina, ear infection, sinus infection or poor sitting posture can manifest as tooth or jaw pain as one of the symptoms.

This kind of pain is known as non-dental pain. The pain in such a case can range from low-grade bothersome pain to sharp and shooting pain.


In this article, I will discuss certain illnesses which cause tooth pain but is of non-dental origin. You will become aware of when to visit a dentist for a consultation and get the treatment done at the right time. (1)

1. Angina

There is a chance that your teeth hurt because of angina disease. Angina is a form of chest pain that occurs when enough blood doesn’t reach the heart.

Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. The symptoms of angina in women are a bit different than the classical way in which angina manifests.

For example, chest pain might not be the only symptom or the prevalent symptom. Women may also experience discomfort in the neck and jaw along with chest pain.

If you experience symptoms like chest pain, which lasts for a few minutes, irritation around your teeth and jaw, shortness of breath or nausea, then head to the doctor for a consultation.

The most dangerous complication of angina is a heart attack. (2) (3) You can help improve the symptoms of angina by making lifestyle changes such as –

  • Quit smoking.
  • Monitor and control health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
  • Follow a healthy diet and maintain your weight. Stay fit.
  • If you already have angina, then ask your doctor about how much physical exercise is permissible for you.
  • Reduce your stress level with meditation.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption to two drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women in a day.
  • Get an annual flu shot to avoid heart complications from viral diseases.
  • Even if you don’t have angina, you can still follow the above precautions to avoid future complications.

2. Ear infection

Untreated ear infection can cause tooth pain due to the proximity of the ear to the jaws. If you have an ear infection and simultaneously your teeth hurt in the same side of the face, then the chances are high that it is referred pain from the ear.

Ear infection can be treated using over the counter painkillers. If pain doesn’t subside even after taking painkillers, then do not delay the visit to the doctor.

High fever can be another symptom of an ear infection which can help you conclude that the tooth pain is of non- dental origin.

Also, if you are prone to an earache more than a toothache, then it is likely that you have an ear infection or vice-versa.

3. Sinus infection (Sinusitis)

Sinusitis or inflammation of the sinuses usually occurs after you have been sick with a cold. In such cases, your nose may feel clogged or congested, and there is a chance that your teeth hurt.

A sinus infection creates pressure and pain in the mouth to cause sinus tooth pain which is often confused with gum disease, tooth decay or pain due to the impacted wisdom teeth.

The maxillary sinus is present behind the upper teeth, which is how they exert pressure on the teeth and cause pain.

Sinus tooth pain occurs when the fluid that builds up in the sinus cavity during a sinus infection puts pressure on your upper teeth which are close to the maxillary sinus.

Sinus infection tooth pain might occur suddenly and usually feels like a dull ache, or tooth sensitivity while chewing.

Sinus infection tooth pain can occur even in case of a bad cold or sinus congestion without any sign of full-blown sinus infection.

Pain due to tooth fracture or decay, pain due to bruxism or gum disease can cause pain like sinus pain. Visit your dentist to rule out dental problems in such a case.

Typical findings of non-dental sinus pain include upper teeth sore to touch or percussion on the affected side or both side, but no particular tooth is more sensitive than the others.

Also, the thermal test of all affected teeth is normal in such a case. In case of pain caused by sinusitis, the doctor will prescribe anti-histamines or antibiotics. (4)

4. Poor posture

If you experience frequent headaches and pain in your lower jaw, then check your posture and consult your dentist for temporomandibular disorder. Poor posture places the spine in a position which causes stress to the temporomandibular joint.

Unbalanced posture rearranges the facial muscles which cause the bumps and grooves of upper and lower jaw not to fit together properly. (5)

An oral appliance can help align teeth in a position which will reduce jaw pain caused by poor posture.

Also, you need to realize the importance of proper posture. Poor posture could lead to tooth pain without any decay per se.

Over to you on tooth pain due to non-dental issues

Following a proper oral hygiene regime is essential not only for your teeth but also for early identification of much more complicated diseases which are non-dental in nature.


If you have decayed tooth and an ear infection at the same time, then you may not be able to find out the root cause of tooth pain. Also, in such cases getting the treatment done for the tooth will not be enough to eradicate pain.

If your teeth hurt, especially when you have a good dental condition, consult a doctor without wasting time.

If you are unaware of any underlying illness, you will suffer even after dental treatment since the cause of pain is different. When you take care of your teeth, you make it easier for both the doctor and yourself to get an early diagnosis and treatment.


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