What’s the first thing you think of when you have a toothache? For most of us, cavities likely spring to mind. That’s not surprising, considering that as many as a quarter of American adults have at least one untreated cavity.
But while tooth decay is one common cause of tooth pain, it’s not the only cause. In fact, sometimes, you can have tooth pain that doesn’t even start with your teeth — it starts with your sinuses.
At Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC, our team never makes assumptions about the source of toothaches in our New York City patients. We make a careful review of your symptoms followed by a thorough exam to pinpoint the cause, so it can be promptly and properly treated. Here’s how your sinuses could be affecting your oral health and comfort.
You have four pairs of sinuses located behind your facial bones. The maxillary sinuses are located on either side of your nose behind your cheeks — and just above the upper tooth roots. In fact, the space between the bottom of the maxillary sinus and the ends of your tooth roots is very narrow.
During a sinus infection, your sinuses swell, and that means they can also compress or “pinch” the nerves inside your tooth roots. The result: tooth pain that tends to be worse when you chew or bite down. Decay can cause the same type of pain, so it’s important to take note of any other symptoms you have that could point to sinus involvement, such as:
Because sinuses drain into the back of your throat, sinus infections can also cause chronic bad breath.
It’s not just sinus infections that can cause trouble: Tooth decay can cause sinus issues, too. Because those back upper tooth roots are so close to your sinuses, if one (or more) of those teeth is infected, that infection can spread to your maxillary sinuses, triggering an infection that can affect your other sinuses, too.
Bottom line: If you ignore a tooth problem or a sinus infection thinking it’ll go away on its own, you could be setting yourself up for more serious problems, including widespread infection.
The first step in any toothache treatment is to have your tooth examined. In addition to a visual exam of your teeth and gums, our team may recommend X-rays to see below the gums. The X-rays we use help us visualize the local sinus areas, as well, so we can see if the sinus cavities may be involved in your symptoms.
If you have a sinus infection, the good news is, most infections can be treated with antibiotics. Once the infection subsides, your tooth pain should go away, too.
On the other hand, if a decayed and infected tooth is causing sinus pain and pressure, the tooth definitely needs to be treated right away. Depending on the extent of the decay, we might suggest a filling or, for deeper decay, a root canal and crown to restore your tooth.
If decay is very extensive, the best course may be to extract the tooth to help prevent the infection from spreading. You may need to take antibiotics, as well. No one likes to lose a natural tooth, but with extensive decay and deep infection, you’ll feel better and improve your oral health, too.
Whatever’s causing your tooth pain, one thing is certain: A toothache is never normal — it’s a sign that something’s wrong. Even if that “something” doesn’t directly involve your teeth, you still need to have the underlying problem treated to avoid further complications.
To learn more about sinus-related toothache and how we can help you find relief, call 929-229-0255 or book an appointment online at Compassionate Endodontists New York/ NYC today.