With fall allergy season here and cold and flu season right around the corner, many people will experience dental pain due to sinus pressure without even realizing the root cause. If you find yourself experiencing sudden pain in your teeth- especially the upper teeth- and you are also experiencing symptoms of a sinus infection or sinusitis, it is possible that the two are related.
Sinusitis is characterized by an inflammation of the sinuses caused by a number of different ailments, including infection. The sinuses are located above your teeth, under your eyes, and around your nose. These air-filled pockets connect to each other, so when you experience pain in one part of the sinuses, it is often felt in other areas as well – such as under the eyes and in the teeth simultaneously.
If you experience this type of sinus pain for more than three months at a time, this is what is known as Chronic Sinusitis. Chronic Sinusitis can cause many problems besides just in your sinuses- and many of these problems can affect your oral health.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can often occur when your nose is congested, and you cannot breathe through your nostrils. When your nostrils are blocked, your body knows to open your mouth and breathe through the mouth instinctively. This can dry your mouth out much faster than if you breathed through your nose. Another cause of dry mouth associated with sinusitis and sinus infection is a medication you may take to alleviate some of the symptoms. In addition to being uncomfortable, dry mouth is bad for your teeth, too. Our mouths need saliva to wash away bacteria. Saliva also provides digestion enzymes and neutralize acids that cause tooth decay.
Because of where the sinuses are situated, it is very common for sinus problems to cause bad breath. Your sinuses produce mucus- even when you’re not sick. That mucous generally keeps your sinuses flowing smoothly- warming the air you breathe, and pushing viruses, bacteria, dust and other pollutants down the throat and into the stomach where your stomach acids digest and neutralize them. However, when you are sick, that mucous thickens and gets stuck- causing bad breath and the sinus pressure responsible for the pain in your teeth.
The bottom of what is known as your maxillary sinus is positioned right on top of the roots of your upper back teeth. When pressure from blocked sinuses occurs, it can radiate to your teeth and cause a great deal of discomfort- and often, confusion. You may not realize that the pain in your teeth is actually from your sinuses. Conversely, if you have frequent sinus infections or chronic sinusitis, more serious dental problems may go unattended if you think the pain is from sinus pressure and there’s nothing else going on.
According to Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, TX, these symptoms are exactly why you should get regular checkups from your dentist. Says Hill, "If you’re experiencing dry mouth or bad breath due to sinus congestion, there are products we can prescribe to help eliminate these symptoms." As for the pain associated with sinus pressure, Hill cautions against shrugging it off. "It’s not always easy to see what is causing tooth pain." Says Dr. Hill. He recommends being seen by a dentist if you are experiencing any kind of discomfort in your teeth. "Even if you’re sure that the pain you’re experiencing is from your sinuses, it’s still a good idea to get it checked out just in case."