When Sick Teeth Hurt: Three Illnesses That Cause Tooth Pain

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The symptoms of an illness may not always be what you expect. A few oral conditions can actually cause what feels like a toothache, when in fact it's something a bit more complicated. If you feel sick, teeth hurt and you want answers, it's worth it to make an appointment with your dentist for deeper insight into the issue. Tooth pain can be connected to a variety of issues, from sinusitis to chest pain.

1. Angina

Angina is a form of chest pain that occurs when not enough blood is able to reach the heart, according to the American Heart Association. It's usually not considered a condition in and of itself, but rather a symptom of coronary artery disease – a much more systemic issue. Interestingly enough, angina doesn't just cause pain in the chest; the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) suggests it can also cause irritation around the teeth and jaw.

If you have a toothache or jaw pain – or even sharp feelings of stabbing pain, nausea or fatigue, according to Mayo Clinic – it's a good idea to see your doctor. Angina is treatable through lifestyle changes, medications and, in some cases, surgery. Managing it will not only minimize your symptoms, but ultimately help save your life; angina can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.

2. Sinus Infections

If you've been sick, teeth hurt and your nose feels clogged or congested, you might be dealing with a sinus infection. Sinusitis, or inflammation in the sinuses (the hollow cavities in your face), usually occurs after you've been sick with a cold. The buildup of mucus that occurs with a cold creates a great environment for bacteria or viruses to grow.

The sinuses, particularly the maxillary sinus, are located near the upper back teeth. Their proximity to these molars can make it feel as though your teeth hurt when your sinuses are inflamed, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although saline sprays or nasal decongestants can help clear the nose, minimizing any pain, swollen sinuses need to shrink in size for you to feel lasting relief. Use over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatories or similar pain relievers to ease the pain in your teeth and any pressure you might feel in the sinuses.

3. Ear Infections

Just as the location of the sinuses around the tooth can make you feel pain in the teeth when you have a sinus infection, the closeness of the ear to the jaw can cause you to feel pain in your teeth when you have an ear infection. Keep in mind you may develop a toothache on the same side as your ear infection, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). As with sinusitis, however, an ear infection can clear up on its own with time. Feel free to use OTC pain relievers to minimize your discomfort, though.

Whether you have chest pain, ear pain or sinus trouble along with a toothache, it's always a good idea to see a doctor – particularly if the pain persists. Getting an official diagnosis for the illness you have allows your doctor to recommend the best course of treatment for it. He or she can also rule on any actual problems with the tooth itself, such as an abscess or infection, and determine if the pain you feel is connected to your illness.

Taking care of your teeth at home is an important part of staying healthy, whether or not you're dealing with pain that is dental in nature. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush, such as the Colgate® 360°® Enamel Health™ Toothbrush. Of course, semiannual visits to your dentist mean you'll catch cavities or other tooth issues before they become a bigger cause for concern.