Everyone experiences that same moment of panic when you wake with a throbbing toothache, but don’t start stressing about a cavity just yet! If your toothache is accompanied by a stuffy nose, headache or sinus pain and pressure, then that tender tooth could be connected.
When your body contracts a sinus infection, inflammation or head congestion can put pressure on your upper teeth which can sometimes translate to tooth pain. The sinuses can also cause your lower teeth to ache as a result of your teeth being forced into a slightly “off” position from clenching or grinding.
Is it a Cavity or a Cold?
There are a few ways to determine where the pain is really coming from:
- An abscessed tooth will cause a sharp, spot-specific pain
- Allergies can cause cold-like symptoms including tooth pain
- A cold can have similar symptoms of a sinus infection and can cause tooth pain
- Check for sinus infection symptoms below
Sinus related pain will usually feel like a dull ache, radiating through a wide area of the mouth and face. Lookout for the following signs of a sinus infection:
- Facial pressure throughout the face. Nose, forehead, around they eyes and jaw
- Sinus congestion
- Restricted breathing
- Green/yellow colored mucus
- A sore throat from post nasal drip
- Ear pain
How to Get Pain Relief (and When to See a Doctor)
These tips may provide temporary relief if your symptoms are due to a cold or sinus infection:
- Take a mild decongestant
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Rinse your sinuses with a saline nasal spray or neti pot
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water or gargle salt water for throat pain
If your sinus or tooth pain does not subside and is lasting longer than a week, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Your doctor can prescribe you an antibiotic to combat a sinus infection.
Other Illnesses That Can Cause Tooth Pain
There are a few oral conditions that can cause what feels like a toothache, but can be something a bit more complicated. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to contact your dentist for a consultation.
- Angina. A form of chest pain that occurs when not enough blood is able to reach the heart. Angina is not an actual condition, but rather a symptom of coronary artery disease and can cause irritation around the teeth and jaw.
- Ear Infections. Pain in the chest or ears can be a sign of an ear infection. The closeness of the ear to the jaw can cause you to feel pain in your teeth if you do have an ear infection and can be treated by a doctor.
What if it Really IS a Cavity?
If your congestion subsides and your tooth pain is still present, get in touch with your dentist right away.