Your sinuses and your teeth are next-door neighbors, so it shouldn’t be surprising that problems in one area can lead to problems in the others. Sometimes when you get a sinus infection, your teeth hurt, and if you grind your teeth, you might give yourself a sinus headache.
Let’s explore how your sinuses and teeth are connected and how you can relieve pain in both.
How Are Our Sinuses and Teeth Connected?
Your sinuses are empty cavities in your cheeks, nose, and above your eyes. Your sinuses work to filter, warm, and moisten the air you inhale.
Sinus infections occur when your sinuses fill up with fluids collected by a common cold, allergies, or bacteria. Symptoms of a sinus infection include congestion, a sore throat, and postnasal drip.
Your maxillary sinuses, which sit on the sides of your nose above the upper jaw, are connected to the upper roots of your molars. For some, the sinuses touch the nerves in your teeth. Since your maxillary sinuses are close to your upper teeth, pain in one can easily lead to pain in the other.
Infections in the maxillary sinuses are called maxillary sinusitis. In some cases, pain in your upper molars can indicate a maxillary sinus infection.
Can Sinus Infections Lead to Tooth Pain?
Sinusitis, a general sinus infection, develops when your sinuses become inflamed and fill up with fluid or mucus. In some cases, this pain you feel in your sinuses can spread to your upper teeth because they’re close together.
Sinus infections are very common, and about one out of every eight people in the US get one in their lifetime.
Common symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Sore throat
- Postnasal drip
- Toothaches (especially in the upper back teeth)
- Sinus congestion
- Sinus pressure or headaches
- Dental abscesses
Your teeth may begin to ache when pressure builds up in your nasal cavity in the early stages of sinusitis. Although most toothaches associated with sinus infections are in the upper teeth, the pain can spread to your lower teeth. Some people feel pressure or discomfort in their teeth when they move or change positions.
Can Tooth Pain Lead to Sinus Pain?
At the same time, pain in your teeth can lead to pain in your sinuses. Dental infections can spread to your maxillary sinuses, and tooth infections under crowns or root canals can lead to sinus inflammation.
Regular toothaches are an example of chronic sinusitis triggered by a dental issue. Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed as a sinus infection that lasts more than three months.
Like the chicken and egg conundrum, it can be hard to determine whether the tooth pain is coming from the sinuses or vice versa if you’re feeling pain in both.
As a rule of thumb, one of the best ways to determine the source is to identify the location of the tooth pain. If your pain spans across multiple teeth, the problem was likely caused by the sinuses. But if the pain is localized to one tooth, the issue probably started with the tooth.
Are Sinus Infections Related to Teeth Grinding?
In some cases, sinus infections can increase your tendency to grind your teeth, especially while you sleep. If you have a sinus infection that stuffs up your nose, then you may have trouble breathing through your nose while you sleep. This can cause issues with your sleep patterns and lead to teeth grinding.
Additionally, if you experience jaw pain or have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD), the symptoms of a sinus infection can make your jaw pain worse. When your jaw muscles get tense, it can lead to teeth grinding.
How to Treat a Sinus Infection
If you think you’re suffering from a sinus infection, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor or visit an urgent care facility. Sinus infections typically need a multi-faceted treatment plan, and your doctor can prescribe you something to reduce blockage or help drain the fluid.
Sinus infections will clear up on their own within a few weeks, but seeing your doctor can help spare you a lot of pain and discomfort.
If you want to treat a potential sinus infection with over-the-counter options, you can try a saline nasal spray, saline solution, or neti pot to clear moisture buildup in the sinuses. Additionally, you can take the recommended dosages of pain relievers and decongestants.
As you recover from a sinus infection, you’ll want to drink plenty of fluids, get rest, and keep your head elevated to promote drainage. If your sinus infection persists, you should see your doctor.
How to Treat Tooth Pain
If you’re experiencing pain in your teeth, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist may want to take x-rays to identify the source of your discomfort and will perform a full examination to assess your condition.
If your tooth pain is accompanied by sinus pain, you should still see your dentist. Often, people ignore tooth pain when dealing with what they think is a sinus infection when they really have gum disease or tooth decay.
Once your dentist checks everything out, if necessary, they’ll develop a treatment plan for you. If nothing seems to be wrong with your teeth, then you can start treating your symptoms as a sinus infection.
How to Treat Teeth Grinding
If you realize that you’ve been grinding your teeth because of your sinus pressure, then there are steps you can take.
Be sure to take decongestants, especially a nighttime option before bed, to ensure you don’t have any trouble breathing. If you’re taking time to massage your sinuses to relieve the pressure you feel, take some time to massage your jaw joints as well.
Additionally, you may want to start using a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth from clashing together while you sleep. Cheeky offers high-quality, affordable, effective nightguards to help you get better rest and feel more like yourself.