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Is it a Toothache or Just Sinus Pain? | Overland Park Family Dentist

It’s something we’ve all experienced: that nagging pain in the upper back teeth. It could be a toothache or it could just be our sinuses. We’re not sure. When you’re faced with that situation, what should you do? How can you tell the difference? When should you go see your Overland Park family dentist?

In this handy article, we’ll walk you through the differences between sinus pain and a toothache, how you can tell, and what you should do to treat them. Of course, if you’re ever concerned with any aspect of your dental health, the best thing to do is to reach out to your family dentist for a checkup.

Since you probably already have a pretty good idea of what a toothache is, let’s start with a little information about sinus pain and what causes it. First off, what are your sinuses? Simply put, they’re empty spaces in your skull, just behind your eyes, cheekbones, and forehead. These empty spaces contain mucus that filters particles from the air before it enters your lungs. Because the largest sinuses are behind the back teeth of your upper jaw, when your sinuses become irritated – as they often do during allergy season – you may experience pain that feels like it’s happening in your back teeth.

What’s the difference between sinus pain and a toothache?

If it’s sinus-related pain…

  • It usually involves persistent pressure and discomfort that is isolated in the upper back teeth.
  • It’s often accompanied by other symptoms including cough, congestion, postnasal drip, headache, fever, or fatigue.
  • The pain increases based on where you hold your head.
  • It’s usually accompanied by tenderness or swelling in the tissue around the cheekbones.

Whereas a toothache…

  • Is usually focused on one individual tooth that could be anywhere in the mouth
  • Is often a sharper, less persistent pain that increases when you bite down or ingest foods that are hot or cold
  • Is frequently accompanied by swelling in the gums around the tooth
  • And may also involve bad breath, fever, headache, or unpleasant drainage from the tooth in question.

The good news is that most sinus conditions can be cleared up in a relatively short amount of time. If you have a sinus infection or sinusitis, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relief, nasal sprays, or decongestants. If you’re suffering from allergies, there are usually medications to help treat that, too.

On the other hand, if you’re suffering from a toothache caused by a cavity or other dental condition, over-the-counter pain relief won’t be enough. Your best bet in that case is to call your Overland Park family dentist. If you’re still not sure which is which, you can always give us a ring, and we can help walk you through deciding what your next steps should be.

Whether you’re suffering from a toothache or just need to schedule your biannual checkup, give Watts Family Dental in Overland Park a call at (913) 338-3384 to chat with a member of our friendly staff!

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