Have you ever had pain in your teeth while fighting a head cold or sinus infection? It’s uncomfortable, a little scary, and more common than you realize. So, do you have sinus pressure or a toothache? There’s a very good reason your teeth hurt when your head is congested, and we’ll tell you all about it.
What are Sinuses?
Sinuses are air-filled pockets found in different places around your face. Your sinuses are lined with small hairs known as cilia. The cilia filter air, mucous, and bacteria through your sinuses.
Humans have four pairs of sinuses that fill space in our heads to make them lighter. Sinuses also produce mucus which drains the nasal cavity and cleans the nose.
- Frontal sinuses are in the frontal bone above your eyebrows.
- Sphenoid sinuses are found near the optic nerve and the pituitary gland in your brain. They are set further back in your skull and aren’t paired off like the other sinus cavities.
- Ethmoid sinuses sit between your eyes and the top of your nose to separate your nasal cavity from your brain.
- Maxillary sinuses are the largest of the four. These air pockets look like pyramids and fill the spaces behind your cheekbones on either side of your nose.
Understanding Sinus Pain
Sinus pressure and pain occurs when your sinuses become blocked by fluid and can’t filter out bacteria and viruses. Common colds, allergies, and other conditions can trigger inflammation and blockage in your sinuses.
Since your largest sinuses are behind your cheekbones and close to your jaw, you may experience pain in your teeth when you have a sinus infection. As the cavities fill with fluid from the infection, they expand and press on the surrounding areas, including your jaw.
Though it’s not uncommon to experience dental pain related to a sinus infection, it can be concerning. In most cases, your tooth pain will resolve when your sinus infection clears up. However, sometimes the sinus infection can spread and lead to dental problems, including an infected tooth.
The Difference Between Sinus Pain and a Toothache
How do you know when your tooth pain is a side effect of a sinus infection? Tooth pain related to sinus infections usually resolves as the infection fades and the air pockets clear up. However, if your tooth pain doesn’t resolve and you experience any of these additional symptoms, you may have a dental issue.
- Persistent dental pain when you eat or drink something hot or cold.
- Swelling of your face in the area you are experiencing pain.
- Swollen or inflamed gums near a specific tooth.