Can Sinus Pressure Cause Your Teeth to Hurt?

Sinus pressure is the pain experienced over the face, nose and head due to inflammation or infection in the sinuses (known as sinusitis). It is often caused by viral or bacterial infection (sometimes both).(1) Sinus pressure can be experienced in association with seasonal allergies and common cold. The pressure generally develops when there is excessive fluid/mucous build up in the empty spaces within the sinuses, such that the sinuses are unable to drain leading to blockage and pressure builds up. This is experienced as pain, tenderness and discomfort over the sinuses.

Can Sinus Pressure Cause Your Teeth To Hurt?

To understand the association between sinus pressure and tooth pain, it is essential to understand the anatomy of the sinuses. In a human body there are 4 pairs of sinuses as listed below:(1)

  • Frontal Sinus (located near lower portion of the forehead)
  • Ethmoidal Sinus (Located behind the nose and between the eyes)
  • Sphenoidal sinus (located behind the nose)
  • Maxillary sinus (Located behind the cheeks and directly above the upper jaw).

Sinuses are empty air filled spaces within the facial bones lined with mucous membrane.(2) In case of infection, there is swelling and inflammation of these membranes very often associated with fluid accumulation. This exerts pressures causing pain. Tooth pain is associated with infection in the maxillary sinus.

As the name suggests, the maxillary sinus is located within the maxilla (also known as the upper jaw bone). The lower border of the maxillary sinus lies directly above the jaw bone and intersected by the root ends of the upper back teeth. In case of sinus pressure build up, the pressure is exerted against the walls of the sinus. The pressure against the lower wall is exerted directly against the upper jaw bone and roots of the teeth in the upper jaw. Thus a painful sensation is experienced in the teeth, especially in the upper back teeth.(3) Sometimes pain can be experienced in adjoining areas such as front teeth, lower teeth, jaw joints etc. This is possibly a referred pain from focal point of pain. This can cause:

  • Extreme discomfort while eating
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Irritability
  • Constant gnawing pain.

How to Differentiate Sinus Tooth Pain From Regular Toothache?

As described above, pressure build up in sinus can mimic tooth pain. This kind of tooth pain disappears as the sinusitis improves. In these cases, the teeth as such are not affected and do not need any treatment. It is important to differentiate between sinus teeth pain from regular teeth pain so that in case the teeth needs attention or dental care it doesn’t go unnoticed.

In case of sinus pressure causing tooth pain, there are other symptoms associated with teeth pain such as fever, runny nose, lack of energy and other common symptoms of cold. The pain is usually on both sides of the jaw and mainly over the upper back teeth. Sinus pain intensifies while jumping or bending forward and reduces upon lying down.(4) This is because the pressure shifts with movement.

In case of regular tooth pain, pain is localized to just one tooth (sometimes more) and it can be any tooth (not specifically upper molars). In dental pain, the pain does not subside upon lying down. In fact in case of pulp issue, the pain can intensify upon lying down.

Home Remedies for Management of Sinus Pressure Causing Teeth Pain

Home remedies are often effective and beneficial for management of sinusitis. These are often recommended by physicians in conjunction with standard line of treatment. Some of these home remedies are listed below:

Adequate Hydration: It is advised to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated when affected by sinusitis. Drinking hot beverages and soups provides relief and is very soothing.

Steam Inhalation to Manage Sinusitis and Sinusitis Pressure: Inhaling steam can open up the nasal passage and thus relieve the pressure. This can be done by simply boiling water in a vessel and inhaling the steam by covering your head with a towel. There are steam inhalers available in commercial markets as well. Adding in essential oils such as camphor or eucalyptus oil can also be beneficial. Taking hot shower twice a day can also provide relief.

Sinus Flush to Reduce Sinus Pressure: A large number of devices are available commercially for doing sinus flushes, e.g. Neti-pot, nasal sprayer, nasal irrigation system etc. Premixed solutions are also available for sinus flushes. The idea is to rinse the sinuses with a saline solution. This helps in flushing out the fluid build-up and helps in hydrating the mucous membranes.

Conclusion

Tooth pain from sinus infection is not uncommon. It is caused due to pressure build up in the maxillary sinus which in turn exerts pressure against the roots of the upper jaw. This leads to tooth pain. If the pain doesn’t subside in 2 to 3 days, it is advised to consult a dentist to rule out any dental concerns.

References:

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