What Should You Do If You Get A
Sinus Infection And Toothache?

If you get a sinus infection and toothache symptoms, it can be very hard to tell which one is the cause and which one is a side-effect.

Sometimes, a sinus infection can feel just like an aching tooth. You have a dull ache in your cheek, right over a tooth, and the tooth itself can feel tender to bite on. It's possible for a sinus infection to imitate a toothache, even though the teeth are fine!

Sinus infection and toothache

What are the clues that tell you if it's a genuine toothache or a sinus infection?

  • A pure sinus infection will not make a tooth sensitive to hot or cold drinks. If you have a tooth that hurts with something hot or something cold, then you probably have a real toothache.
  • With a sinus infection, it can feel like 2 or even 3 teeth are hurting at the same time. With a toothache, the pain is either all in one tooth, or else across a number of teeth. Not in 2 or 3 at once.
  • A sinus infection will only affect the upper back teeth, usually the first big molar. If you are having pain in a lower tooth (on the lower jaw), then it will not be caused by sinusitis.

Sinus Infection And Toothache

If your pain is caused by a sinus infection, then the pain will usually get worse when you bend over forwards, lie down, or shortly after lying down to go to bed. If you then get up and walk around for a few minutes, the pain will ease off or even disappear. This is typical of a sinusitis.

While it is sometimes possible for a tooth nerve pain to get worse when you lie down, and ease off when you stand up, you will also have pain with hot drinks or with cold drinks. This doesn't happen with a sinus infection.

How can a sinus infection and toothache occur at the same time?

A sinus infection and toothache can come about because of the way the upper molar teeth are positioned in the upper jaw. Basically, the roots of the upper back teeth sit very close to the sinus cavity. This is a small air-filled space inside your skull.

There are several little air pockets like this in the upper jaw, but the one we are talking about is the one right above the upper molar teeth, on each side of your head. It's also called the "maxillary antrum". It is just under your cheekbones.

If you get a sinus infection, and toothache at the same time, what is happening is that the inflammation inside the sinus is making the area around the upper molar tooth roots very tender. That's why it's uncomfortable to bite on these teeth, and why you have a dull ache in your cheek.

Read more about the signals of a sinus infection at Sinusitis Symptoms.

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What about the other way around - Can a tooth problem cause a sinus infection?

It's possible. But you'd be aware of other problems in that area beforehand. For example;

  • If you get an abscess on an upper molar tooth, and you don't get it treated, it's possible for the infection on the root tip to erode the thin layer of bone under the sinus away. Then the bacteria can get into your sinus and set up infection there.
  • If you get an upper molar tooth extracted, then there is a very small chance of disturbing the thin layer of bone between the tooth roots and the sinus. Again, this can get infected.
  • If you get a dental implant put in to replace a missing upper molar tooth, it's possible to disturb the bottom of the sinus. Sometimes this is done intentionally, as a surgical technique to get more support for the implant. But complications are always possible.

SO, sinus infection and toothache CAN occur at the same time, but usually it's either a sinus infection that's also making the teeth tender, OR a genuine toothache that just feels like it's in your cheek. You'd be really unlucky to get a sinus infection AND toothache both at the same time!

Either way, the best thing to do is see your dentist. If it's a tooth problem, he's the right man to help you! On the other hand, if it's a sinus infection, he can refer you to your medical doctor. There is nothing, really, that you can do at home yourself.

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