Most people do not associate a visit to the dentist with seasonal allergies. However every year in the Spring and Fall, (especially in Greensboro, NC where seasonal allergens are some of the worst in the United States) we see a number of patients in our dental office with toothache symptoms on teeth without a reason to hurt. These symptoms are most commonly localized to the maxillary (upper) premolars and molars. Symptoms include, hypersensitivity to cold, pain on biting, sensitivity to tapping and throbbing sensation. While it is true all of these symptoms mimic an infected tooth, they also are indicative of sinus pressure.
Sinus Pressure is a common side effect to the body’s response to seasonal allergens. The body produces thick mucus to eliminate the allergens. The thick mucus often does not easily flow out and this creates congestion. The congestion creates pressure and subsequent pain build-up in the cavities in our head. These cavities are known as sinuses. There are actually multiple sinuses located in the skull all capable of becoming congested. The maxillary sinuses are most commonly affected by congestion and pressure because the drainage point is not located at the floor of the sinus but instead up the wall of the sinus. (Imagine how well your shower would empty if the drain were located on the side wall instead of the floor).
The maxillary sinuses are located at the root tips of the upper molars and premolars. When the pressure builds up in the maxillary sinus pressure is placed on the tips of the teeth roots and indirectly causes tooth pain. A good analogy is to think about putting your finger next to a partly blown up balloon, and then blow up the balloon so that the tip of your finger is surrounded by balloon. Like your finger in the balloon the teeth do not perforate the sinus cavity but intimately rest up against the sinus wall. Sinus Pressures can equal a toothache.
Once you have seen your dentist and ruled out a tooth infection you can treat the symptoms. In order to treat sinus congestion and pressure to relieve tooth pain you must eliminate the congestion which causes the pressure. A good trio of medications we recommend to our patients to treat these symptoms are:
- -Antihistamine (Claritin, Allegra, Benadryl)
- -Decongestant (Pseudofed, Claritin-D)
- -Topical Nasal Spray- (Afrin)
If toothache symptoms don’t resolve be sure to revisit your dentist for a reevaluation and/or referral to a specialist.
Drs. David and Janna Civils
1114 Magnolia Street