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What is the Difference Between Sinus Pressure and a Toothache?

Have you ever had a terrible cold and felt like your nose was stuffy, backed up, and overall just clogged? This is often referred to as sinus pressure, and sometimes leads to more than just a little discomfort. 

Sometimes sinus pressure can cause pain around the sinuses. Due to their close proximity to the sinuses, this also includes the teeth. Sinus pressure can be caused by more than just a bad cold, and in these situations, it is sometimes hard to know whether the pain you are feeling in your teeth is from sinus pressure or a toothache. 

There are a couple of main differences between sinus pressure and a toothache. When in doubt, your dentist can help you find the root cause of tooth pain. 

Causes of a Toothache

When determining if your tooth pain results from sinus pressure or a toothache, it can be helpful to know what causes it and how it differs from sinus pressure.

While there isn’t one situation that causes every single toothache, there are a couple of things that can cause them:

  • Tooth decay
  • Infection inside the center of the tooth
  • Broken tooth
  • Damaged or lost filling
  • Gum infection

If you are experiencing a toothache, call us today so we can help. To help prevent toothaches, learning about everyday things that cause damage to teeth may help. These include biting nails, chewing on ice, grinding your teeth, and more. Learning to take care of your teeth can decrease your chances of toothaches.

Symptoms of a Toothache

The one common symptom when someone has a toothache resulting from dental problems is pain. The pain from a toothache is often described as sharp or throbbing, is constant with very little reprieve, and is generally localized on one specific tooth. 

One of the key things to note about pain from a toothache is that the pain often increases or gets worse when pressure is applied—this is usually from biting down or chewing on food. You likely have a toothache if you feel sharp, localized pain on a specific tooth that worsens when chewing food. 

In addition, there can be other symptoms of a toothache. These symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Swelling in or around the mouth
  • Fever
  • Foul odor or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Localized pain that increases when pressure is applied

You may experience other symptoms in addition to these, but not all are common.

Treatments for a Toothache

The best and most effective treatment for a toothache is to call your dentist and receive help. Usually, if you are in pain and experiencing a toothache, it is because of a more significant problem with your tooth that requires professional care to fix. 

If the pain is mild or you wish to try other treatment options before calling the dentist, these may help. Some common and useful options often include rinsing with warm salt water to help eliminate an infection, which will help minimize the pain. 

You can also try a cold compress and over-the-counter pain medication. If the pain worsens, the best treatment is to call your dentist and receive professional help. 

What Are The Sinuses?

Understanding what the sinuses are, where they are located, and what they do can help you determine if the pain you are feeling is from sinus pressure or a toothache. 

Everyone has four sinuses in and around their face. These sinuses play a considerable role in keeping the air we breathe through the nasal passageway moist and filtered before it gets to our lungs. This is important and helps ensure you don’t inhale dirt, germs, grime, or dust. 

There are four sinuses located within the skull. They are empty spaces around the eyes, forehead, and cheekbones; their scientific names are the frontal, ethmoid, sphenoid, and maxillary sinuses. 

What is Sinus Pressure?

Sinus pressure, also known as sinusitis (swollen sinuses), occurs when excessive mucus buildup and swelling occurs within the sinuses. This results in mucus not draining correctly and causes pressure.

As part of the sinuses' role to filter air, they produce mucus to assist in keeping the air you breathe clean. When the mucus doesn’t drain correctly, you can feel stuffy or congested. This is why when you have a cold, you will often get a stuffy nose as your sinuses attempt to keep clean air circulating to your lungs.

This pressure can build up and cause pain near the sinuses. Most often, this presents as headaches, earaches, and, you guessed it, toothaches. 

Symptoms of Sinus Pressure

It is very common for sinus pressure to be mistaken for a toothache because, in many cases, the symptoms can be very similar. There are a couple of differences, though. As a friendly reminder, if you have severe pain that has lasted for a prolonged period, don’t hesitate to call us and book an appointment. 

Sinus pressure is one of the main symptoms of sinus pressure. This often presents pain in the top molars and will affect more than one tooth. Sinus pressure may cause discomfort to the top and back teeth on the right side. A toothache often causes localized pain. 

On top of tooth pain, you may also have a low-grade fever, a headache, and pain in the ears, eyes, or forehead (the other areas near your sinuses). 

Another prominent sign of sinus pressure is increased pain when running, jumping, and bending over. You may notice that the pain eases when you lie down.

Other symptoms of sinus pressure include:

  • Tooth pain (especially around the back, top teeth)
  • Inflammation and swelling of the gums
  • Low-grade fever
  • Increased pain in activity, decreased pain when lying down
  • Headache
  • Pain in ears, eyes, or forehead
  • Exhaustion or feeling lethargic
  • Loss of taste or smell

At Home Treatment for Sinus Pressure

There are several options for at-home treatments for sinus pressure and sinus infections. If you are experiencing pain and it is not improving, make an appointment with us, and we can help you know if the pain is from a toothache or sinus pressure. 

The most common at-home treatment for sinus pressure is taking hot showers or baths. The stream from warm showers, baths, diffusers, or even a warm towel on your face can help decrease the pressure in your sinuses.

Other helpful at-home treatments include staying hydrated, drinking water, tea, soup, or other warm drinks. Finally, taking over-the-counter medication (like Advil or Tylenol) can decrease the pain while your body heals. 

So, Sinus Pressure or Toothache?

When you feel pain in your teeth, you may ask yourself, is this pain coming from sinus pressure or a toothache? 

While you may be feeling pain in both cases, there are a couple of things to consider to help determine the root cause. If you are still unsure, make an appointment with your dentist.

Sinus pressure most often impacts your upper and back teeth, whereas toothaches will be localized on one tooth. This is one of the most significant differences between the two.

Tooth pain from sinus pressure is often related to feeling “stuffy” or “plugged up.” If you have had a cold or are feeling pain in your eyes, ears, nose, or throat, you may face sinus pressure rather than a toothache. 

Pain from a toothache will also be consistent, and finding a reprieve from the pain may be challenging. Sinus pressure pain may decrease as you take a hot shower, lie down or change positions, and stay hydrated. 

When Should I See a Dentist?

If you have consistent, lasting pain that isn’t getting better, give us a call. We want to help you and help decrease your pain. 

You should also see a dentist if your sinus infection gets better, but your tooth pain stays. Also, if you ever find yourself in extreme discomfort, you should see a dentist. 

At Grove City Dental, we want to help remove any pain you may feel in your teeth and can help you know if your tooth pain is a result of a sinus infection or sinus pressure and a toothache. No matter what, we want to help. Give us a call today!

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