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Can Your Nasal Sinuses Affect Your Teeth?

There is a definite relationship between your sinuses and teeth. This is easy to appreciate when you think about the fact that as we breathe air in through our nose, it travels through our nasal passages and hollow air filled cavities located behind the nose and cheekbones, which are also located directly above the upper jaw bone (maxilla).

Under certain circumstances, a direct correlation can exist between a sinus infection and a toothache. Occasionally, unexplained tooth pain may be a symptom of a sinus infection, or sinusitis, typically caused by allergies or bacteria. This relationship also works the other way, as a sinus infection may be caused by an oral infection in the maxillary teeth, the ones in the upper-back part of the mouth.

Maxillary sinusitis pain can be felt throughout the jaw and upper row of teeth, as well as around the cheeks and eyes. Despite the close relationship between a sinus infection and toothaches, there are ways to determine if the pain is sinus related or dental related.

Dental Pain Caused By Sinuses

Problems with the sinuses can cause a wide range of symptoms.  These range from the expected runny nose, congested nasal passages, sinus pressure, and headaches to name a few.  Other times people may experience symptoms that seem completely unrelated to the sinuses, most common of which is severe tooth pain. This tooth pain is what will often bring the patient straight to the dentist, where an exam of the teeth in question will reveal a seemingly healthy tooth along with a panoramic x-ray or CT scan that demonstrates the congested sinuses. This is a key sign that usually points to a sinus issue as being the cause, especially if the pain is felt in multiple teeth (typically all the upper molars and sometimes premolars of the affected side) and not just isolated to a single tooth. The area between the floor of the maxillary sinuses and where the tips of the roots of maxillary teeth anchor into the jaw is incredibly narrow. So when sinus pressure and fluid build up, they can cause the sinus cavity to expand and impinge on the area where the extremely sensitive nerves of the maxillary teeth leave their roots. This sharp pain is what dentists refer to as a sinus toothache, since it is due entirely to problems arising from the sinuses and not the teeth. Sinus toothache pain can be spontaneous and occur suddenly, particularly when you chew. Other symptoms of sinus toothaches include: swollen gums, tenderness behind the cheekbones, facial swelling, a throbbing headache, fatigue, and runny nose. Additionally, untreated sinus infections can make it difficult to maintain proper dental hygiene and may also be the culprit in cases of bad because sinus drainage exits into the back of the mouth. Fortunately, all of these dental symptoms are easily resolved by simply treating the underlying sinus infection.

Sinus Pain Caused By Teeth

An additional association between your teeth and sinuses also exists when sinus issues arise due to a dental problem.  Again, due to the close proximity of the maxillary sinuses and the point of attachment of the upper teeth, if a bacterial infection occurs in any of the upper teeth, that same infection can easily extend up towards the maxillary sinuses and cause individuals to experience symptoms similar to chronic sinusitis, which easily develop because once an infection initially establishes itself within the maxillary sinuses, it can quickly spread to the other sinus cavities. When infections develop in posterior teeth underneath crowns or within a tooth due to decay or a root canal, it can easily provide a continuous source of bacteria to feed into the sinuses, causing the symptoms of a chronic sinus infection. Dental causes for sinus related issues are often over looked by many healthcare practitioners due the fact that they cause sinus issues before they see any apparent dental related symptoms, such as localized pain in an individual tooth. Actual dental pain differs from sinus pain in that it is typically accompanied by gingivitis or gum disease. This points towards a problem with your teeth, not the sinuses. Dental pain can also affect any of your teeth, not just the upper back teeth as occurs with sinus associated tooth pain.   When any sort of dental pain or throbbing toothache is felt, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible to prevent it from progressing to a much larger issue. Your dentist will be able establish or rule out any underlying dental causes for tooth pain, such as teeth grindingcavitiesperiodontal disease, or dental abscesses.

If you have any dental pain or discomfort associated with your teeth, please feel free to contact the office of Dr. Scott Young with any questions you may have, or visit us at to schedule an appointment or consultation. Dr. Young and his team serve The Woodlands, Houston, Kingwood, Spring, and Conroe areas.

Dr. Scott Young, DDS

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