Is It a Sinus Infection or a Tooth Causing This Pain?
If you had a chance to read our September 2020 post “Our Amazing Nervous System and Our Mouth” you would have learned about the Trigeminal Nerve which gives most of your face sensation. Other subgroups of nerves further organize what we feel and how. The Superior Alveolar Nerve branches from the Maxillary Nerve and supplies feeling to the upper teeth and surrounding gum-line. Your maxillary sinuses are very close, located just above your top teeth. In some areas, very little tissue separates the upper tooth roots from the bottom of the sinus cavity. That is why it is common for some to not know whether the pain they feel is the result of an abscessed tooth or sinus infection.
There are many reasons a person could develop a sinus infection. A cold or virus, even allergies can irritate sensitive sinus tissues. If an affected sinus area close to the Maxillary Nerve becomes inflamed, it can feel like a tooth ache. In some rare cases swollen sinus tissue have repositioned upper teeth and altered the bite pattern of patients. Due to their proximity, infections starting in teeth can cross infect sinus areas and visa versa.
Most commonly, tooth infections (or an abscessed tooth) start in tooth pulp when bacteria enter a tooth via a cavity. However, infections can start in the gums and bone around and under the tooth as well. Small abscesses usually heal on their own and go unnoticed, but potential is there. Keep in mind that a tooth infection can result in tooth loss, therefore don’t ignore pain. If untreated significant bone loss can also be a result. In some cases, without enough bone to secure an implant, there is no way to repair the damaged area. See your dentist with any tooth pain, even if you’re not sure if its tooth related. You will not be the first to assume a tooth problem that turns out to be a sinus infection. So, don’t sweat it.
How can you know an abscessed tooth from a sinus infection? Do NOT self diagnose, this is not an absolute guide rather just an observation of some who have experienced both.
Those with sinus pain usually feel a dull, continuous pain, where the pain from an abscessed tooth is often said to increases in intensity. Gently tapping on an abscessed or infected tooth with a dull metal object should send you “through the roof” with immediate, sharp, and intense pain. Pain can travel especially if the infection has been allowed to progress, and some can feel pain from an abscessed tooth throughout their face.
Because you have 4 main sinus cavities from the tip of your nose to the middle of your forehead deep inside your face, an infection in one can irritate them all. Sinus pain is more likely to travel compared with a tooth ache, but the difference can make diagnosis difficult.
Dr. Mathews has digital x-ray machines that can quickly identify a tooth abscess or the progress of any infection. Erbsville Dental also has a Maxillofacial Surgeon on hand if needed to help diagnose anything not dental related. So, if you have pain in your upper jaw and lower sinus area, call Erbsville Dental today. An abscessed tooth or any infection should never be ignored. Erbsville Dental in Waterloo is always friendly, caring and experienced, call today.