Man holding his cheek with tooth pain while sitting in a dental chair

Why Sinus Infection Tooth Pain Occurs

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If you've ever suffered from tooth pain, you know how uncomfortable it can be. There are multiple reasons you could be suffering from tooth pain. Some of the more common reasons include cavities, a cracked tooth, or tooth sensitivity resulting from cold or hot foods. But a lesser-known cause of tooth pain is a sinus infection. If you suffer from a sinus infection, tooth sensitivity, or pain, here's some helpful information to be aware of.

Sinus Infections

If you're a constant sufferer of sinus infections, you are not alone! Did you know that, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 31 million people in the United States get them? It's such a common ailment that they're the cause of 16 million doctor visits a year. Also known as sinusitis, a sinus infection occurs when the nasal passage cavities become swollen and inflamed. Because the sinuses are unable to drain, a mucus build-up can occur. It's usually caused by a virus like the common cold but can also result from allergies or bacteria.

Once your sinuses have a blockage, the moist environment created by an excess of mucus creates a fertile ground for infections. We know — not the most pleasant imagery to think of, but it's helpful to understand what a sinus infection is so you can find the right relief! But what do our sinuses have to do with tooth pain? Can a sinus infection cause tooth sensitivity to hot and cold?

Tooth Pain

If you take a gulp of cool water and notice sharp pain, then you're definitely familiar with the feeling of tooth pain! A sinus infection could be the reason for it. This is due to where your sinuses are located in your facial structure. The roots of your upper molars are close to your sinus cavities. So when your sinuses become infected and swollen, the resulting pain is often mistakenly believed to have originated in your teeth.

Easing Tooth Pain

So how long does a sinus toothache last? Unless other factors contribute to your tooth pain, it should stop when your sinus infection goes away. While sinus infections — and the resulting toothaches — can be painful, the Mayo Clinic reassures patients that they usually clear up within seven to 10 days. If you don't feel better in this timeframe, consult your doctor. Over-the-counter medications might offer some pain relief, but a physician will best be able to determine your course of treatment.

How do you relieve sinus pain in your teeth? In addition to seeing your doctor – who might prescribe an antibiotic if your symptoms have not improved at all within ten days – you can try some at-home remedies outlined in Medline Plus:

  • Use a warm compress on your face several times each day.
  • Increase your fluid intake as a means of thinning the mucus produced from your sinus infection.
  • Inhale steam from a hot shower several times a day.
  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom when sleeping.

While a sinus infection can be one specific cause of teeth pain, it's best to avoid toothaches altogether! That starts with regular checkups with your dental professional. They will diagnose potential issues, such as cavities or gum disease, that could eventually lead to a toothache. Your dentist and dental hygienist can also help you develop a good oral care plan. This includes brushing twice a day, then flossing or cleaning between your teeth with a water flosser or other interdental cleaning device, and lastly, using mouthwash to rinse away any remaining bacteria.

We know you care about your oral health and take preventive measures seriously. So it can be frustrating to find out you have tooth pain from something outside your control. Toothaches can be painful, especially when they occur with a sinus infection, but there are ways to find relief. When at-home remedies haven't given you the sinus tooth pain relief you need, speak with your dental professional to find a treatment that works for you!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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