Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a sinus infection and a toothache because the teeth and sinus cavities are so interconnected. Sinus cavities are hallowed chambers that air pass through before reaching the lungs, and when bacteria develop there, it can lead to a sinus infection. A sinus infection may resemble the pain of a toothache and a dental infection or abscess can affect the sinuses, so it’s important to be able to recognize certain symptoms to help identify if it’s a problem with the teeth or the sinuses.
Sinus pain vs. toothache pain
Dental infections and tooth decay can lead to toothache pain, but because the maxillary sinus is close to upper teeth, issues with it may create pain similar to a toothache. This is a common problem in winter when colds and the flue can create pressure in the head and lead to a feeling of tooth pain when someone moves their head or walks around. The best way to know if it’s sinus pain or a toothache is with a dental radiograph that can show if it’s just a cloudy sinus with a healthy tooth or an actual tooth issue. Treating sinus infections can require antibiotics, decongestants or nasal sprays, but toothaches indicate something more serious, so it’s important to visit the dentist to determine the true origin of the pain.
Sinus infection symptoms
Sinus infections or sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and can last even after other symptoms disappear. Other triggers of sinusitis include nasal polyps, allergies, deviated septum and a tooth infection. In rare cases, bacteria or fungus can cause sinus infections. Acute sinusitis only lasts for a short time, but chronic sinusitis can last for several weeks and reoccur. Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Pain – swelling and inflammation of sinuses create an ache and dull pressure that can radiate into the upper jaws and teeth, sides of the noses, forehead and around the eyes
- Congestion – swelling and mucus build up in nasal passages restricting breathing and reducing sense of taste and smell
- Discharge – greenish-yellow discharge that can drain down throat as postnasal drip
- Sore throat – cough and postnasal drip may start as tickle and progress to a sore throat
- Headache – pressure and swelling in sinus cavities can lead to headaches that cause jaw pain, ear pain and toothache pain
- Cough – draining sinuses irritates throat lining and leads to a persistent cough that may be worse at night when laying down
The easiest way to determine whether the pain is from a sinus infection or a toothache is to visit the dentist for an x-ray. If you experience tooth pain or sinus issues, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly because treatment of a toothache or sinus infection helps keep you and your smile healthy and free of pain. Stay healthy through this season and all year with experienced dental services from Chianese Dental.