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What Is the Connection between a Sinus Infection and Toothache?

A cross section of the head, including the sinuses.
A cross section of a tooth.
Pain in the upper teeth in the rear of the mouth can develop from a sinus infection.
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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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The connection between a sinus infection and toothache usually appears in the upper teeth, especially in the rear of the mouth. Sinuses can become inflamed, causing thick mucus to form that prevents proper drainage. When this happens, pressure builds and may result in pain and an infection in some people. A dentist can determine if there are dental problems before sending the patient to a medical professional if treatment for sinusitis is necessary.

Toothaches are common reasons patients visit a dentist. The dentist usually checks for an abscess, cavity, or gum disease to determine if the patient’s pain is connected to a dental defect. Those who grind their teeth during sleep might also experience tooth discomfort. If a dental exam rules out any cause for the pain, an ear, nose, and throat doctor can check to see if a sinus infection is causing the problem.

Sinusitis typically produces symptoms that mimic a cold, flu, or allergies. A runny or clogged nose is a common sign, along with post-nasal drip and headache. When a virus attacks sinus cavities, the entire face might swell, causing pain pain. Some patients find that food tastes funny because of mucus around the taste buds, and they might lose their appetites. Others suffer from fever and fatigue.

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Sinus infections and toothache pain associated with the condition are usually treated with antibiotics and decongestants. Nasal sprays can help thin out mucus clogging the nasal cavities. An expectorant might also aid in breaking up mucus so it can drain properly. Antihistamines are sometimes prescribed if the discomfort stems from allergies.

The head contains seven sinus cavities, and any one of them can become infected. A cavity called the maxillary sinus is commonly linked to tooth pain because mucus must move upward to drain from this cavity. When the maxillary area fails to move mucus effectively, it can accumulate and become infected, leading to pain in the upper teeth, which may radiate to the jaw and ears.

Home remedies might help ease the symptoms of a sinus infection. Steam can be effective to loosen mucus and allow it to drain. Breathing deeply over a pot of boiling water may help if done several times a day, using a towel over the head to prevent the steam from escaping. Increasing water intake also aids in thinning out mucus clogging nasal cavities.

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