WHAT COULD SINUS infections have to do with teeth? It turns out that they sometimes have everything to do with them. Headaches and sinus problems can overlap with tooth decay, cavities, and infections. In some cases, the only symptoms a patient experiences are the sinus problems rather than ones that more obviously point to a dental cause. When that happens, they probably go to their regular doctor for help instead of a dental professional.
How a Tooth Infection Begins
We can develop tooth infections when a hole forms in the enamel due to acid from oral bacteria or food and drink eroding it. Without treatment, bacteria can grow inside this cavity and make it bigger and deeper until it penetrates the pulp chamber at the center of the tooth, where the nerves and blood vessels are. At this point, the bacteria can spread to the roots of the tooth, which is when biting down can become painful.
The Infection Beyond the Tooth
Tooth infections don’t always hurt, such as when an upper molar is infected and the infection can work its way into the sinuses. This is how it can cause sinus infections instead of typical tooth infection symptoms. Patients and clinicians may not recognize that the cause is the tooth, which leads to an incorrect diagnosis and treatment that won’t work long-term. In situations like this, the patient may develop maxillary sinusitis of endodontic origin (MSEO).
With MSEO come the symptoms of a regular sinus infection, including a runny nose, congestion, post-nasal drip, facial pain, and a foul odor and taste. The symptoms of a typical tooth infection like temperature sensitivity, pain while chewing, and toothache, are often absent. The tooth in cases of MSEO has already died, and the normal pressure that would build around an infected tooth and cause pain escapes into the sinuses instead.
Endodontic Treatment Is the Solution
Physicians or ear, nose, and throat specialists could end up treating recurring sinus infections for years without spotting the source of the problem: an infected tooth. Prescribed antibiotics can temporarily relieve the symptoms but won’t eliminate the source of the bacteria, which is the tooth. Root canal therapy is the only way to put a stop to these sinus infections.
Get an Endodontist’s Opinion on Your Repeat Sinus Infections
If you’ve had a lot of sinus trouble and it never seems to go away — especially if it tends to last longer than a cold or comes back often, think about scheduling an appointment with us. We can have a look and see if an infected tooth is the cause of the problem, and, if so, we can use endodontic treatment to put a stop to the sinus infections and save the tooth.