In the United States, 28 million adults suffer from sinus infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If this is true for you too, you know how painful this condition can be. The addition of sinus infection tooth pain caused by pressure in your nasal cavity can be all the more distressing if you're unaware of this side effect.
However, it's important to determine whether a sinus infection is the cause of your toothache. Reach out to your doctor if you have a cold-turned-sinus infection, or contact your dentist if the pain originated in your teeth.
The American Rhinologic Society (ARS) defines sinusitis as the inflammation of your nasal passage lining; a cold that persists longer than two weeks can develop into an acute sinus infection. This begins in your maxillary sinuses, located just above your molar teeth roots, and can swell with the build-up of bacterial or viral mucus. The pressure it puts on dental nerve endings can cause a painful sensation in one or more of your teeth.
If you are experiencing sinus pain, you should make an appointment with your dentist or doctor immediately. In addition, you can alleviate tooth pain by targeting the backlog of mucus. Try these five tips to relieve sinus infection tooth pain:
1. Drink Fluids and Use Steam
Water helps hydrate the mucus membranes and decreases mucus build-up, explains the Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine (ADAM). So, be sure to have fluids on hand to stay hydrated.
If you've become dehydrated, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that electrolytes affect the amount of water in your body, and water doesn’t naturally contain electrolytes. As such, you may want to add coconut water to your diet, as it contains electrolytes like magnesium, potassium and sodium. Likewise, magnesium supports your immune system, which helps to fight both bacterial and viral sinus infections.
Moreover, add a steamy shower or a peppermint steam solution to your daily care. Peppermint and steam both help cut decongestion and pain (all the more reason to drink tea when it's cold outside).
2. Eat Spicy Foods
Even if you have a sensitive palate, don't be afraid to stock up on foods that have a kick, such as horseradish or chili peppers. Both of these include ingredients with mucus-thinning properties, reports ADAM, and can give you an instant sense of relief. But not all spicy foods are equally effective; check with your doctor first to be sure you're not causing more harm than good.
3. Use an Expectorant
The key to relieving sinus infection tooth pain is to drain the mucus, decreasing the pressure in your sinuses. Over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants and expectorants can provide fast relief, but in different ways. Baylor College of Medicine advises that expectorants "melt" mucus, whereas decongestants effectively dry out the passages to relieve the pressure. Look for a nasal expectorant, but take some time to read the instructions on how to flush the area and how many times per day you should do so. If symptoms persist past the prescribed usage, you should always consult your doctor.
4. Hum Yourself to Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important means to increasing your body's general resistance. During sleep, your body has an opportunity to produce white blood cells and cytokines, which "enhance immunity," according to the Pflugers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology. When you have a painful sinus toothache, however, it may be hard to relax enough to rest.
Surprisingly, humming has been linked to a decrease in sinus pain. Air flow in the area acts similarly to water in helping to clear and drain mucus build-up, as observed by two studies reported in The New York Times.
If you've taken an expectorant but still find yourself up at night, try humming at different tones. Humming naturally vibrates your facial "mask," and you can softly hum the tone that best engages the inflamed area. Infants are calmed and lulled to sleep by similar rocking, and this can also help you relax enough to get much-needed rest.
5. Position Your Head for the Best Drainage
When resting, keep your head in a propped, tilted position. Laying horizontally can cause blockage and continued pressure, but sleeping with some of your upper body propped up is a better way to drain the pain.
It's especially hard to take good oral care with tooth pain; be sure to brush the area gently with a toothbrush. And try these tips along the way, while seeking out your doctor or dentist in conjunction with a consistent oral routine at home.