Sinus Infections: A Real Pain in the… Teeth?

106392513It’s that time of year. Allergens permeate the air we breathe, irritating our sinuses and making us feel all sick in the head. Viral infections, allergies, pollution… all can trigger sinusitis, which often leads to the dreaded sinus infection.

The painful pressure behind your eyes and cheekbones. The constant need to grab for a tissue (or five). The sore throat and irritating cough. The pain in your teeth. Wait… pain in… what? That can’t be right.

It’s As Plain as the Nose on Your Face

No, really. It’s true. Consider… your nose is located just above your mouth, and your maxillary sinuses just above your teeth. Sometimes that severe toothache in your upper molars and premolars isn’t actually the result of a dental problem. In fact, the inflammation in your maxillary sinus caused by a sinus infection can put pressure on the roots of your upper molars. This can create rather significant pain, which often occurs before the other symptoms of the sinus infection set in.

Patients suffering from this type of tooth pain tend to run to their dentist’s office only to find out they are actually in great oral health. If dental causes are ruled out, your dentist should advise you to give your doctor a call.

Pain, Pain Go Away

If it turns out you have a sinus infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic (if it appears the infection is the result of bacteria) to help kick the infection. However, if it’s the result of a virus or just aggravated allergies, you’ll just have to wait it out. And in the meantime, remember the following to keep the pain and irritation to a minimum:

  • Humidifiers are our friends. Consider dragging the old humidifier out of the closet, dust it off, plug it in, and breathe easier. The hydration can reduce swelling and the pressure on your upper teeth.
  • Sniff, sniff. Get yourself some nasal spray with phenylephrine or ephedrine, and give your sinuses (and teeth) a little relief.
  • Somewhere over the counter. There are a number of over-the-counter oral decongestants and medications that can relieve most of those pesky sinus-infection-induced symptoms and help alleviate tooth pain.
  • Get well soon!

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