A variety of factors can lead to teeth sensitivity, including extreme heat and cold. One less common factor that can make your teeth hurt is a cold or sinus infection. Due to the proximity of the tooth roots to the sinus cavities, pressure in your sinuses can cause discomfort in your teeth. However, it's important to ensure there isn't a more serious underlying cause that might require treatment.
How Do I Know What's Causing My Teeth to Hurt?
If you have symptoms of a cold, the flu or a sinus infection, particularly congestion and pressure in the sinuses, your tooth pain could be related to that condition. Your sinuses, teeth and dental nerves are close enough to each other that pressure and pain in your sinuses can travel to your mouth. In fact, pain in the upper teeth is a common symptom of sinusitis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Talk to your doctor about treatment for sinusitis or other respiratory illnesses that could be causing your congestion. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides a list of cold and flu symptoms, which include a stuffy nose, sore throat and hacking cough.
Congestion in the ears and Eustachian tubes is also common in conjunction with a cold. Pressure in these areas can cause discomfort in the back teeth and in the roof of the mouth. If you experience pain in your ear on the same side as your tooth pain, it could be pain radiating down from the ear, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Unless you have an ear infection, treatment for congestion in the ears is similar to treatment for sinus or nasal congestion. If your ears hurt and feel like they are full of liquid, or you feel pressure on your eardrums and experience frequent "popping" in your ears, see your doctor to rule out an ear infection. You might need antibiotics if your ears are infected.
If you're experiencing tooth pain, don't have symptoms of the common cold, and you don't know what's causing the discomfort, it's best to talk to your doctor or dentist to get a definitive diagnosis. Some causes of tooth pain can be serious and require prompt treatment to prevent severe side effects. Issues that could be causing or contributing to your tooth pain include gum problems, cavities, enamel erosion, wear and tear, and teeth clenching and grinding.
How to Ease Discomfort When a Cold Makes Your Teeth Hurt
If congestion from a cold, the flu or a sinus infection is making your teeth hurt, try to relieve the pressure in your sinuses. Your doctor might prescribe decongestants, or you can use over-the-counter decongestants to reduce the pressure. A hot washcloth on your face can also help relieve the pain. Over-the-counter pain medication can be helpful. Other remedies you can try include:
- Rest and extra sleep
- Warm beverages and soup
- Cold medications that thin the mucus causing your congestion
- Throat lozenges or tea with honey to soothe a sore throat caused by sinus drainage
Some additional at-home treatment recommendations from the U.S. National Library of Medicine include using a humidifier, inhaling steam or trying a nasal wash. If you do have a sinus issue, you should see your doctor, particularly if it is persistent and/or accompanied by a fever. This could be a sign of a severe sinus infection, or sinusitis.
Your teeth may hurt due to sensitivity. If your teeth are uncomfortable when exposed to cold, heat or pressure, they could benefit from a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. If the discomfort seems unrelated to a cold or sinus problems, be sure to talk to your dentist for a definitive diagnosis and recommendation for treatment.