Understanding and Treating a Sinus Toothache
Sinusitis has a lot of really annoying symptoms, but one of the most painful and difficult to handle is the sinus toothache. In order to understand how your sinuses can cause such a painful toothache, it’s important to know a little about sinusitis. There are seven air-filled cavities located in the head. These cavities can become inflamed from several causes, although the most common include: an allergy, inhalation of chemicals or irritating particles in the air, a rapid change in temperature or humidity, a viral or bacterial infection, and asthma.
Sinusitis can be acute, meaning that it hits hard but usually goes away within a month of the initial onset. It can also be chronic, meaning that sinusitis can crop up at frequent intervals or lasts longer than one month. The symptoms of acute sinusitis can be so severe that you find yourself “down” for several weeks. Severe headaches that can last all day, a buildup of pressure around the cheeks, nose, and eyes, fever, and mouth or tooth pain are very common symptoms that may not ease without treatment. In fact, most cases of acute sinusitis are a result of nursing a cold for too long to the extent that bacteria have been able to spread into the sinus cavities, causing inflammation.
Chronic sinusitis is often not as severe as far as symptoms go, but it can be more of a nuisance because it recurs so often or lasts for such a long time. A blocked or runny nose, itchy eyes, a little pressure around the nose, and headaches that flare up in the morning or while bending over are a few notable symptoms of this type of sinusitis. However chronic sinusitis isn’t merely an annoyance—it can actually cause a person to be more likely to experience acute sinusitis than the average person.
A sinus toothache can flare up with either type of sinusitis. Regardless of how common it can be to experience tooth pain because of sinusitis, it is important that you determine whether the pain is genuinely related to the sinusitis or if the tooth is in fact hurting due to dental reasons. If you have a history of sinusitis, the tooth pain seems to subside with the use of medication or treatments for sinusitis, and if you are experiencing the tell-tale signs of sinusitis in addition to a toothache, then it is likely that you are experiencing a sinus toothache. Your doctor or dentist may wish to take an x-ray to confirm their suspicions.
When the sinuses in the cavities above the teeth become infected and fill with fluid, this can create an intense amount of pressure against the roots of the top teeth. The most common teeth to be affected by sinus pressure are the upper molars and this pain can either build at a gradual pace or hit suddenly and randomly throughout the day. Even if the pain doesn’t seem very intense, you may notice that your teeth seem extra sensitive when you chew food and your upper jaw (near your ears) may be tender when you open your mouth.
The best way to treat a sinus toothache is to treat the sinusitis problem itself. It really doesn’t do much good to live off of painkillers to manage the pain if you aren’t also attacking the root of the problem. The problem isn’t your actual teeth, it’s the pressure building in the sinus cavities. In most cases, over the counter medications such as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), Benadryl, and Claritin are quite effective in relieving symptoms of sinus pressure. If the problem does not seem to ease, or if you want to be extra-cautious about the severity of your case, you may choose to see a doctor. The doctor will be able to determine whether over the counter medications are enough to treat the problem and if not, he/she may prescribe a general antibiotic such as amoxicillin to get rid of the infection. If you have trouble managing the pain until you can get to the doctor, you may wish to rub a bit of Orajel into the gums of the upper teeth to provide a temporary numbing sensation. Be sure to relay to your doctor upon arrival of any medications you have taken recently (even Orajel).