How to Tell if It’s a Sinus Problem or a Toothache

August 11, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — meadowbrook @ 8:46 pm
Man has tooth pain

A dentist is well-prepared to bring you relief when you have a toothache. While you might automatically think you need a dentist when experiencing pain in the upper back teeth, this isn’t always the case. Inflamed sinuses can also cause pain in the upper molars. Here’s what you need to know to tell whether taking care of your tooth pain is a job for your dentist or an ENT specialist.

When Is It a Toothache?

Toothaches often happen when a bacterial infection has breached the exterior of the tooth and is now infecting the pulp within. During a toothache, the pain will be completely contained within the affected tooth and is usually described as sharp and throbbing. Remember, the pain is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself, which is why seeking treatment is so important. If a toothache does not go away after one day, you should see a dentist immediately.

When Is It a Sinus Infection?

The sinuses are air-conducting passages located beneath the facial bones. They serve to warm, moisten, and filter air before it reaches the lungs. Inflammation of the sinuses, or sinusitis, happens when the membrane lining them becomes infected or irritated. Since they sit above the upper back molars on either side of the face, the swelling of these air passages can cause dental discomfort by crowding the roots of the teeth. This can sometimes even cause pain in the lower molars. In cases of sinus infection, a specialized ENT (ears, nose, and throat) doctor is best equipped to treat the issue.

If your sore teeth are the result of sinusitis, it will probably feel like a dull ache among neighboring molars. You will also be likely to experience other symptoms of sinusitis, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath
  • Facial pressure or pain
  • Fever
  • A feeling of fullness in the ears
  • Excessive and discolored mucus

Are Toothache and Sinusitis Related?

Toothaches involve infections in the pulp of the tooth which contain blood vessels, and if the toothache is left untreated, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream to infect other parts of the body. Experts believe that about 40% of chronic sinus infections come from infected teeth. This means that poor oral care can cause illness in the sinuses and the rest of the body. This can require a lot of medical care to resolve.

Toothache results in sharp, throbbing pain limited to an infected tooth. Sinusitis can cause a dull ache across several molars accompanied by other symptoms of respiratory infection. Knowing the difference ahead of time can help you get relief from your tooth pain sooner.

About the Practice

Meadowbrook Dental Care helps maintain healthy, beautiful smiles among the community of Mineola, NY. Led by a skilled team of five dentists, the dedicated staff provides personalized dental care in a comfortable and welcoming environment. Services include preventive, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. If you believe you are experiencing a toothache, contact the office online or dial (516) 284-1234.