The sinuses are important for maintaining clean airflow for our lungs. Essentially, our sinuses act as a filter. Sometimes, we experience sinus pain as a result of an infection from harmful bacteria that has lost control and people may mistake this pain for a toothache, as they feel very similar, or vice versa.

How Do I Discern the Difference?

The fact of the matter is that the maxillary sinuses are connected very closely to the roots of our upper teeth, which is what causes confusion in many people when they begin to experience pain in the area.

The difference lies in the specific symptoms you feel. A toothache that is not connected to your sinuses in any way will simply be just that: an aching tooth.

Sinus-related toothaches often include more than just the pain your tooth. You may have a runny nose, or swelling of the face, tender cheeks, swollen gums, and usually a headache. These symptoms are related to the entire sinus cavity, which is why they produce symptoms in more than one place.

If you are experiencing these symptoms and they do not subside, then it may be a sinus infection which should be addressed by a physician or even your dentist.

Toothaches felt on the bottom half of our teeth should not be confused with sinus pain. These are toothaches that should be addressed if pain does not subside on its own within a couple of days.

“I’ll Just Take an Advil!”

We want to warn people who often take Advil or other types of over-the-counter painkillers (i.e. ibuprofen) to numb the toothache pain they feel. Pain is a response from the body specifically designed to get your attention and remedy the situation. By constantly masking this natural signal, you are jeopardizing your teeth.

If you find yourself consistently battling toothache pain from medication, then it’s time to visit your dentist and receive a thorough examination and x-rays to pinpoint your issue. Most toothaches are a result of tooth decay that can often be easily corrected with a dental filling. However, decay that has spread too deep may require a root canal in order the save the tooth and prevent extraction and replacement – which can be costly to fix.

Stay proactive (i.e. brushing and flossing), pay attention to the signs, and if you are ever unsure never hesitate to call your dentist and ask for their opinion. Most will ask to schedule an appointment because it’s hard to make a diagnosis on symptoms alone.