Friday, October 6th, 2017
Many people suffer from sinus issues. To chronic or recurrent sinus infections, to seasonal allergies, almost everyone can say that have had some sort of sinus issue at least once in their lives.
And while the most common causes of sinus issues are allergies or viruses that cause Sinusitis or Rhinitis, there is another oft ‘missed connection’ in people who suffer ongoing sinus problems – the dental connection.
A typical scenario is that a patient who suffers endlessly from sinusitis. Symptoms could include; a stuffy nose, a runny nose, post nasal drop, congestion, breathing problems, and sinus headaches. Commonly, this type of patient will visit a variety of medical practitioners. This could include specialists like allergists, and Ear Nose and Throat specialists. Throughout the course of these visits, the patient will be prescribed a wide variety of medications. Medications could include decongestants, allergy meds, antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and sometimes even pain medications. Some will be advised to try such things as acupuncture, while others may be advised to use homeopathic remedies like Neti Pots. Both treatments being used as an attempt to drain and irrigate the sinuses.
When all of these treatments fail, the patient is often advised that allergies are responsible for their symptoms. They are also advised to continue using these drugs and methods endlessly to attempt to control the symptoms. Throughout all of this treatment, it doesn’t occur to the doctors that perhaps there is something going on with the teeth or other structures within the mouth. Which could be the cause of the symptoms.
Let’s take a look at the connection between the teeth and the sinuses. There are four sets of sinuses:
As you can see, all of the sinuses are in very close proximity to your mouth and teeth. This means that when you are having sinus problems, your teeth and jaw may ache and feel swollen. Conversely, if you are having problems with the structures of your mouth and teeth, you may experience symptoms in the areas of the sinuses that mimic a sinus condition.
All four sets allow the air we breathe to circulate through and gather moisture and warmth before entering the lungs. In healthy sinuses, the passages are able to clean themselves, sort of like a self-cleaning oven. And no special practices should need to occur in order to keep them clear.
Because the sinuses are so close to the teeth, any time there is an infection in one or the other, the symptoms can be tricky to diagnose. A common example, is a person who has an infection in a tooth at the back of the mouth. The back teeth are very close to the Maxillary Sinuses. When the dental infection becomes severe, such as in the case of an abscess, the bacteria and swelling that occur can travel into the sinuses. In very severe cases, the infection can actually cause a hole in the wall of the Maxillary Sinus. This would allow a flood of bacteria into the sinus cavities. While the patient may be experiencing dental pain, it is very common for them to report having significant pain within the sinuses. This pain leads to headaches, dizziness, nausea and general fatigue.
Another common scenario is root canal. If a root canal is not performed properly, and bacteria is left in the canal, eventually it can travel up into the sinuses. This will again cause the symptoms listed above. Because the patient believes that their root canal has healed properly, and they are not having dental pain, neither they nor their doctor, may make the connection that the two are related.
These scenarios can also work the other way. A patient may present to their dentist with ongoing dental pain, swelling and headache. The dentist will perform their regular array of tests and exams, and may find some cavities that are treated, yet the patient’s symptoms don’t improve. In this case, bacterial from an infected sinus may have travelled into the mouth and around the teeth. This can cause symptoms that aren’t always immediately obvious to the dentist.
If you suffer from recurring sinus issues, or have dental pain , it’s a wise idea to speak to both your doctor and dentist to have appropriate tests performed. This will help to uncover where the problem is actually originating.
Once the root cause of the dental or sinus pain has been uncovered, there are treatment options available. These options include the use of antibiotics that will target the sinuses or the mouth. Having any dental issues corrected, including dental fillings, root canals, cleaning, and treating gingivitis, can all help in alleviating the symptoms you are experiencing.
In some cases, the risk of a patient developing dental related sinus pain, or sinus related dental pain depends on several factors that include the following:
If you are a person who seems to suffer from frequent sinus or dental pain, or perhaps both, prevention is key. Taking good care of your teeth and gums through brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings and checkups, will help to prevent infections that may spread to your sinuses. If you find that you are suffering from dental pain that cannot be traced to a particular cause within your mouth, it’s important to have your doctor perform a thorough exam of your sinuses. This to ensure that there isn’t an underlying issue that may be causing dental symptoms.