Seasonal Allergies and Toothaches

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.

dentist sinus painSinus 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).

sinus teethThe 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:

  1. -Antihistamine (Claritin, Allegra, Benadryl)
  2. -Decongestant (Pseudofed, Claritin-D)
  3. -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.

Greensboro ToothacheToday’s post was written personally by Drs. David and Janna Civils. Do you have a question for either Dr. David or Dr. Janna?  We would love to hear from you!

Drs. David and Janna Civils

1114 Magnolia Street 
Greensboro, NC

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4 Responses to Seasonal Allergies and Toothaches

  1. Nicole says:

    I have been dealing with this issue for 5 months now. I had a general dentist appt where they found a LOT of cavities. Shame on me… They filled the cavities, and determined that one needed a root canal. It was going to take several weeks for the endodontist to be available for the root canal, so I made the appt and went home. Immediately after the novacain wore off, I was in awful pain throughout my mouth. They ached and the root canal tooth was excruciating. After the dentist put me on several weeks and rounds of antibiotics, vicodin, motrin 800’s etc I finally got the root canal. However, the pain never stopped in the root canal tooth and other teeth. After the crown was placed on the root canal, I continue to have sensitivity to hot, cold and almost any food that I eat, which I know is not supposed to happen. That tooth should be, for all intents and purposes, be dead. I have been to the dentist 3 times, and they say that the teeth are all fine, and they just keep adjusting my bite. I have been to my general doctor 3 times, who have put me on very high powered antibiotics, steroids, decongestents, nasal spray etc. telling me that it is all likely due to sinus pressure, despite that I do not have a runny or congested nose. I definitely have seasonal allergies, not to mention we found hidden mold in our basement which appeared to be making my allergies much worse (we have since removed all of the mold). If I’m not supposed to take an allergy decongestent for extended periods of time, and they don’t completely alleviate the pain, especially when eating, and I’ve tried sensodyne…what else am I supposed to do? I have not eaten a meal or consumed a drink without pain in over 5 months. Hope you can help!

  2. Melodie Voltin says:

    Excessive histamine function is the primary cause of allergic reactions in people. Histamine is a chemical naturally produced by the body which creates an inflammatory effect to help the immune system remove foreign substances. Antihistamines work by competing for receptor sites to block the function of histamine, thereby reducing the inflammatory effect. These products have gained popularity with sufferers of allergic rhinitis.-‘;*

    Many thanks <

  3. Inger Japp says:

    Since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, following good oral hygiene practices can prevent toothaches. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing once daily, and seeing your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning. In addition to these practices, eat foods low in sugar and ask your dentist about sealants and fluoride applications.^:.”

    View the most interesting article on our new homepage

  4. Michael Bain says:

    Thank you Drs. for this article. I have suffered seasonal toothache for some years. I’m just not sure my Dentists, over the years, are convinced. I have been using the special Sensitive relieving toothpaste, as advised, for over a year now with very little effect. At least I have some assurance now that I am not a hypochondriac. I am about to undergo bone augmentation (presumably with a sinus lift) before getting a couple of implant in my upper molar-bicuspid region. Now I wonder if the seasonal toothache will improve or get worse.
    Thanks again
    Kind regards
    Michael Bain

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