If you have ever suffered from oral pain at the same time you have experienced allergies or sinus issues, you have likely wondered, “Is it a toothache or sinus pressure?” If this is the case, you are not alone. Thousands of people wonder that same question every year, and the distinction is important because one requires the help of a licensed dentist, while the other may require seeing a physician. By understanding the difference, you can be better educated about the differences and what the next step should be in getting the situation remedied.
People with a toothache often describe it as a feeling of dull or sharp pain in a specific area of the mouth. Some of the most common reasons behind a toothache are typically from one or more of the following:
- Broken filling
- Cracked tooth
- Loose tooth or crown
The kind of pain an individual feels can depend on the above condition. For example, pain related to a cavity or broken filling may primarily intensify when eating or drinking particularly hot or cold food or beverages. Pain associated with an abscess may be more ongoing instead of its intensity being related to certain actions and will usually become more painful the longer it goes unaddressed.
However, pain is not the only symptom of what may be a toothache. Other symptoms can include localized swelling and throbbing, headache, or fever. These can start out feeling fairly minor and quickly progress, so it is wise to arrange an appointment with a dentist if you begin to suffer from these symptoms.
Depending on the severity of the pain you are experiencing, the appointment may be a regular one or you may need to utilize your dentist’s emergency after-hours hotline to seek help. A reputable Houston dentist will ask about a patient’s symptoms (nature and intensity) and will perform an oral examination to locate the suspected problem and determine a dental treatment plan.
If the issue is toothache related, patients should begin feeling some relief after the dentist has diagnosed and worked to correct the problem.
Sinus Pressure Woes
Although many people associate sinus pressure with headaches, in some patients it may manifest as more of a dull and achy feeling in the mouth or upper jaw. It is generally not localized to a specific area or tooth but is more general in that it can even be felt congruously on both sides. However, most of the time it would be localized in the areas of back teeth such as premolars and molars.
The reason some patients feel sinus pressure in their mouth has to do in large part with the fact that roots of the back upper teeth and sinuses are in close proximity to each other and nerves providing sensation are reaching out from the same bigger nerve, spreading pain. The proximity of the sinus passages and the back teeth may at times make it feel like an oral ache that could be related to a tooth problem when it may instead be the sinuses.
Symptoms of sinus pressure that may have morphed into sinusitis may include:
- Feelings of pressure in the head, eyes, and nose
- Discolored mucus
- Ear pain
- Nasal drip
- Sore throat
One of the more noticeable symptoms that can indicate sinus pressure may be the way the pain feels during movement. Many times, bending over to pick something up off the ground can worsen sinus pressure. In contrast, that pain may subside if an individual is instead laying down or sitting.
Is It a Toothache or Sinus Pressure?
Although both a toothache and sinus pressure can result in oral pain, there are some key differences people can use to hopefully distinguish between the two, such as:
- Symptoms. The hallmark symptom of sinus pressure affecting the teeth is a prominent dull aching feeling in the mouth, making it harder to localize to a particular tooth. Symptoms of a toothache tend to be more numerous, intense, and more localized.
- Intensity of pain. Oral pain related to sinus pressure is typically of a dull or throbbing nature whereas the pain of a toothache can start out dull, but may quickly become intense if it is not addressed in a timely manner.
- Location. Sinus pressure that evokes a toothache has many patients feeling a general pain that is not radiating from a specific tooth. In contrast, a toothache is often very specific in location, although pain may radiate outward from it.
- Treatments. Sinus pressure should be addressed by a physician who may recommend over the counter medications or prescription antibiotics if there is the possibility that it is turning into a sinus infection or sinusitis. Toothache treatment should be determined by a professional dentist and will vary depending on the exact cause of the pain.
The Importance of Having a Good Dentist
Since oral health can be a key indicator of the state of an individual’s overall health, it is important to choose a dentist who is experienced and reputable for all your oral health needs. This often gives the patient peace of mind about their dental care.
In addition, it is crucial to choose a dentist that is easily accessible and that has an after-hours emergency line. This is particularly critical in situations where a patient has extreme oral pain and is not sure what the cause could be. With a physical examination and an x-ray, dentists can determine if a patient is suffering from a toothache or if it is likely the pain of intense sinus pressure.
A professional diagnosis of a patient’s situation is necessary in order to properly treat their condition. A patient that incorrectly self-diagnoses with sinus pressure when it is in fact a serious dental problem could be setting themselves up for intense pain, as well as more complicated fix to the true unaddressed problem.
Spend less time wondering, “Is it a toothache or sinus pressure,” and instead make an appointment with an experienced and licensed dentist. With a physical examination and the intake of patient symptoms, the dentist should be able to either begin treating a toothache or make recommendations for the patient to visit a physician to see about some sinus pressure relief. Taking this small step may help prevent an existing toothache from becoming much worse and requiring more expensive dental procedures in the long run.