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Why does my perfectly good tooth hurt? It may be your sinuses.

Tooth pain is the worst.  When we’re struck with it, we usually want it resolved as quickly as possible and most of the time that means a trip to the dentist.  Fortunately, most of the time diagnosing the source of your pain is pretty straight forward, as there is often a “smoking gun”, and together with a description from you along with a clinical and radiographic exam, your dentist can quickly pinpoint where the problem lies and offer the solution to resolve it.  Sometimes, however, it’s not so cut and dry.  Just like the rest of your body, we can experience referred pain in our teeth.  That pain can come from other teeth, but it can also come from adjacent structures, such as our sinuses. 

The maxillary sinuses (located in your cheek bones) are immediately above your upper teeth.  The sinuses are there to warm the outside air before it reaches your lungs.  Those sinus cavities are lined by a membrane (or sac), and that membrane can become inflamed, especially during the winter months and during allergy season (which seems like all year in Austin).  Your posterior (back) teeth have roots that often lie immediately adjacent to or even within the sinus cavity, and so sinus inflammation can affect the nerves to those roots leading to a “Sinus Toothache” . 

There are ways to help differentiate tooth related tooth pain and sinus related tooth pain.   When you bend over sinus tooth pain may increase.  You may be experiencing more of a dull ache, instead of a sharp pain.  If you have upper tooth pain that persists you should first see your dentist to rule out something more serious such as an abscess or tooth fracture.  Once dental problems are ruled out, then you may want to consider taking some allergy medicine.  Alternatively, a steroid may be prescribed.  If you have recurring sinus tooth aches, then you may need to see an ear, nose and throat doctor to further evaluate your sinus problems. 

If you have persistent tooth pain please call one of our three offices and we will do our best to get you feeling better soon.