Tempe Dentist, AZ 85283, Family, Cosmetic

Does a Sinus Infection Affect Your Teeth?

10 Jun, 2020 general-dentistry

man with sinusitis

Over the years, few patients come rushing through our doors, convinced that they had an infected tooth. After reviewing their x-rays and conducting a physical exam, our Tempe dentist finds that the actual cause of their tooth pain is a sinus infection.

Tooth and sinus pain can be difficult to distinguish. Sinus infections can cause tooth pain, but getting to the bottom of the problem does require a professional exam.

Why Do Sinus Infections Cause Tooth Pain?

Illustration of sinusitis

The sinuses rest just behind the facial bones around your eyes, forehead, and cheeks. There are four of these air-filled pockets. Their role is to help warm the air that you breathe. They also help to filter out potential pathogens and debris. 

Mucus is produced in your sinuses. It is meant to drain through your nose. Occasionally, something happens that stops this process. Colds and allergies are the most common reason for the sinuses to become clogged.

Filled and inflamed sinuses produce pressure in the mouth. These tend to press on the nerves that supply feeling to the top back teeth.

What Are the Signs of Sinus-Related Tooth Pain?

Tooth pain that arises from the sinuses often comes with other symptoms. A stuffy or runny nose is a common symptom that might occur if you have a sinus infection. Severe infections can cause a fever, postnasal drip, and fatigue.

The pain from a sinus infection might change depending upon your position. Bending over sometimes changes sinus pressure in a way that increases the tooth pain. People with sinus-related pain may notice that their cheekbones ache if they are pressed.

What Other Conditions Can Cause a Toothache?

Toothaches are caused by dental issues that require treatment too. A tooth may hurt briefly in response to cold or heat if it has a cavity. Fractured teeth tend to respond in the same way. A broken tooth might feel more painful if you bite down on something chewy or hard.

Severe tooth pain is a symptom of an infected tooth or one with deep decay. This type of pain may feel like throbbing. It can increase in intensity over time. Someone with infected dental pulp or a dying tooth root might find that the pain interferes with their normal activities.

How Can I Tell the Difference?

The nerves that run through the facial structures can send differing responses. This makes it hard to tell the difference between a sinus infection and a tooth problem. A full dental examination involves x-rays and other types of tests that identify the actual source of pain.

What Are the Best Ways to Treat a Painful Tooth?

steam inhalation to manage sinusitis

Painful teeth calm down quickly once you treat the underlying problem. Sinus infections may be treated with home care strategies, such as using steam and avoiding allergens. Antibiotics and decongestants are useful for treating infections that don’t respond to self-care methods.

Pain that has a dental origin will require treatment such as dental fillings, crowns, or root canals. Extractions are a last resort method that is used when other treatments are not possible.

Tooth pain from both sinus infections and dental problems is often severe and unrelenting. In both cases, the problem can rapidly get worse if you don’t seek treatment.


Identifying the source of a toothache is tricky. It is best to get your dental and sinus health evaluated by a professional. Whether you have a sinus infection or a tooth problem, early diagnosis, and treatment help you find comfort faster.