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  • Writer's pictureEmergency Dentist Beaverton

Is it a Sinus Infection, or a Toothache? Your Beaverton, OR Dentist Explains

Updated: Mar 4

Nobody likes having a toothache or a sinus infection – and it’s all too easy to mistake the two! Sinus pressure or infection can make it feel like your teeth are throbbing in pain. And when your teeth hurt, it can be easy to start worrying that you might have a cavity that needs filling, or that you have an infected tooth that needs a root canal. To complicate matters, a dental infection can sometimes trigger a sinus infection!


So, how can you tell whether it’s a sinus infection or a toothache? First, let’s explore why sinus infections can feel so much like toothaches.


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Why Do Sinus Infections Feel Like Toothaches?

There are several sinus passages located behind our cheekbones and above the upper jaw. One of the primary sinus passages, called the maxillary sinus, is located quite close to our upper back teeth.


When our sinuses become inflamed and swollen (a condition called sinusitis), we may feel sensitivity and sensation in those upper molars. It is quite easy to identify that sensation as a toothache, and it might indeed feel quite uncomfortable and even painful. However, that sensation is not coming from the tooth at all, but is caused by pressure on the nerves in that space.




Is It A Sinus Infection, Or Is It A Toothache?

How can you tell if it’s a sinus infection vs. a toothache? Though they can feel similar, the two conditions have several distinct differences in symptoms. Let’s take a look at how tooth pain exhibits when it is caused by sinusitis, vs. the symptoms of tooth pain when it is not caused by sinusitis.



Symptoms of Tooth Pain Caused By Sinusitis

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  • Dull ache that radiates across several teeth

  • Pain or pressure on both sides of the face, especially around the nose, eyes or forehead

  • Tooth pain or pressure when bending over, jumping, or moving your head quickly

  • Tooth pain lessening while lying down

  • Ear fullness or pain

  • Altered sense of smell and/or taste

  • Thick, discolored mucus

  • Runny nose

  • Postnasal drip

  • Sore throat

  • Low grade fever

  • Fatigue


Symptoms of Tooth Pain Not Caused By Sinusitis

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  • Localized pain from a single tooth

  • Sharp or throbbing pain in or around the tooth

  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold

  • Swollen gums

  • Pain while chewing

  • Foul taste or smell from the affected tooth


Not sure whether or not your tooth pain warrants a dentist visit? We recommend visiting the dentist if:

  • You’re still not sure whether your toothache is caused by sinusitis or something else.

  • You do have a sinus infection, but the toothache doesn’t go away once the infection has cleared up.

  • Your toothache causes extreme and/or lasting discomfort.


If any of the above 3 scenarios are true for you, please visit your dentist as soon as you can. It is always in your best interest to visit the dentist whenever you identify something out of the ordinary happening in your mouth. We can determine the root cause of your pain, and how to best treat it so that you can get back to smiling easily and pain-free again!



 

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