Toothache From Sinus Infection

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When you understand HOW and WHY things happen, your actions for treatment and prevention are vastly improved.

If you just want to know WHAT ACTIONS TO TAKE, scroll down.

If you’re in a real hurry, click the Print This Page button and take this information with you.

Emergencies - Potential causes

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Allergies
  • Nasal polyps (tissue growths that can block nasal passages)
  • Deviated septum
  • Trauma to the face

Emergencies - Symptoms

The main symptom we’re concerned about on this dental website is that sinus infections (sinusitis) can give toothache symptoms. Your child might come to you complaining of:

  • A tooth or teeth that become sensitive to chew on
  • A tooth or teeth that become sensitive to even close the jaws together
  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead that increases when bending over
  • Drainage of thick yellow or green snot from the nose or down the throat
  • A reduced sense of smell

These first symptoms can come either from the teeth themselves OR from the sinuses, which is why it can be confusing, even for doctors. The upper back teeth roots are separated from the sinuses only by a thin layer of bone, and sometimes just a lining membrane. That’s why teeth and sinuses can affect each other and give similar pains if infected. Sadly, dentists are more trained about symptoms of sinus infections than medical doctors are about the wide variety of causes of toothache. If someone gets the diagnosis wrong, it means the treatment will be wrong.

Emergencies - Relieve pain

Until you can get a professional to check your child, there are a few things you can attempt to relieve pain.

  • Any OTC (Over The Counter) medicine you might give your child for a headache, but NOT aspirin. Aspirin can cause damage to young children and bleeding problems if your dentist has to remove your child’s tooth or perform other surgery. Standard OTC pain relievers can include Acetaminophen (example: Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (examples: Motrin or Advil).
  • Cold compress. This can reduce swelling somewhat and make the area feel slightly numb (less painful)
  • Warm compress. Even though this will increase blood flow to the area and theoretically cause increased pain, some people get more relief from warm than cold, so experiment. See what works best for your child.

Emergencies - What to do

Toothaches from sinus infections are usually not a health-threatening emergency that requires urgent attention, although no one wants to see their child in pain. Try one of the methods above to relieve pain until you can get to the dentist.

This may seem biased, but I would recommend you start with a dentist over a medical doctor if some of the symptoms are toothaches as we’ve described. Dentists are generally trained more to treat sinusitis than medical doctors are to treat toothaches. I actually learned that from friends who are Emergency Room physicians.

The point for that recommendation is that this kind of toothache requires no dental treatment at all, but the medical doctor might not know that.

However, if you can’t get your child in to see a private dentist or doctor, I recommend getting in with an Urgent Care Center or Emergency Room if the pain is severe. They may at least diagnose infection and prescribe something for that as well as stronger pain medicine until you can get your child in to see their dentist.

Back to the List of Emergencies Page

NOTE: Any recommendations given can only be construed as general information. It is impossible for me to know your specific circumstances. I am not your family’s personal dentist. This material should NOT be used to diagnose the presence or absence of any particular ailment. This information is not intended to be a substitute for the services of a locally qualified dental health care professional. Any application of the material found on this website is at the reader’s discretion and is her or his sole responsibility. If there is any question, contact your dentist or other qualified dental health care professional.
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