Dental Care

Understanding Sinus Infection Tooth Pain

What is sinus infection tooth pain? You have a horrible cold and go to blow your nose for at least the thousandth time that day, as you do you feel as if your teeth are somehow contracting and pulling up into your head as well.

As the day progresses you begin to feel as if all of your upper molars are becoming more and more uncomfortable. What is going on? Well, you probably are someone experiencing sinus infection tooth pain.

Wait a minute, you say, how can my sinuses make my teeth hurt? For the rest of this discussion we will look at this particular condition, what causes it, its most common symptoms, and the best ways to treat it.

What is Sinus Infection Tooth Pain?

If you have ever had a chance to look at your own dental x-rays you may have noticed a murky area of darkness above the roots of your upper teeth. This is actually the maxillary sinus cavity and is the reason that people will often experience sinus infection tooth pain.

Everyone’s teeth and sinuses develop differently, and a large number of people actually have the roots of the maxillary molars extending into their maxillary sinus cavity. This allows pain and discomfort to be “referred” into the teeth should the sinuses fill with pus and fluid during an infection.

If you took a look at the x-rays of someone with a full-blown sinus infection, you would notice right away that their sinuses looked white instead of dark, and this would be due to the fluid accumulating within them. Any time there is pressure around the teeth, it will tend to result in discomfort, and this is precisely what is happening when sinuses become swollen due to infection.


By now you understand that sinus infections can lead to inflammation and irritation in the maxillary sinus cavity which then puts pressure on the maxillary molars, but what actually causes sinus infection tooth pain to spread to almost all of the upper teeth?

Interestingly enough, if you look at the reason that something like an abscess causes pain, it will also explain the background causes for sinus infection tooth pain too. Generally speaking, when there is a lot “going on” in a tight and cramped area of the body, it will always lead to discomfort. When we are speaking about a sinus infection we know that there is a huge amount of activity in the small spaces of the sinus cavities.

For example, consider the level of discomfort due to the constant production of pus and mucus. This is not flowing freely as it is being created, which causes the sinuses to be jammed tightly with the fluids, and this instantly causes everything from headache to sinus pain.

When you realize that the roots of the maxillary molars may be pushing up into the sinuses, it is easy to see how this can exacerbate the level of discomfort simply because it increases crowding and the subsequent pressures.

When you also have infected and inflamed tissue, the crowding gets worse, and this can also allow infection to easily spread to neighboring tissue as well.

You must also consider the basic structure of the teeth in order to understand how swelling in the sinuses leads to tooth pain. For one thing, all of the teeth have nerve endings that run up through or connect directly to the bottom of the roots. These send messages to the brain at any time there is pain in the tooth, and this is a sort of warning signal that there is trouble.

Basically, this tells us that the causes of sinus infection tooth pain are due to the tremendous pressures building up in the sinuses and pushing downwards on these nerves in the jaw and teeth.


Is the pain the only symptom to use to determine if the problem is sinus infection tooth pain or another condition? No, most dental professionals do a test called the percussion test.

During this exam, the dentist taps on each individual tooth to see which actually hurt the most. Should a patient experience pain in a single tooth, and not in any other, the dentist can actually rule out sinus infection tooth pain as the problem. This is because single-tooth discomfort is a sign that the problem is only that particular tooth, and not a more general area of the mouth.

The conclusive symptom, however, is found in an x-ray. As already mentioned, the sinuses will seem to lighten in color on an x-ray when they are full of fluid. This means that the clearest indicator that serious pain in the molars is actually sinus infection tooth pain is an area of whiteness in the x-ray.


Unfortunately, there is no “hard and fast” remedy for sinus infection tooth pain because the actual infection must be eliminated in order to end the discomfort. For this reason, the primary treatment is normally a course of antibiotics. Most patients will find that the worst of their symptoms disappear as soon as the antibiotics begin to do their work.

If the problem is a bit more chronic, such as in cases of serious allergies, sinusitis , or ear, nose and throat problems, a patient has to perform a more proactive approach to sinus infection tooth pain. For example, many dentists end up advising patients to rely on allergy medications, nasal sprays and drops meant to reduce sinusitis, and some nasal washes that can reduce bacteria as well.

Also, if a sinus infection is ignored for too long, or if it is a chronic and ongoing concern, there can actually be damage to the teeth. The remedies for these problems include dry mouth treatments and frequent maintenance cleanings as well.

Why would it be necessary for this sort of care? People with ongoing or chronic sinus infections tend to also become what are known as “mouth breathers”. This means that their oral cavity is much drier than normal, and this allows bacterial overgrowth, plaque and tartar development, and the risks of gingivitis as a result.

When suffering a sinus infection, it is very important to pay attention to any discomfort in the teeth and to act immediately to prevent any damage from occurring.


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