Sinus Toothache and Dental Toothache
How to Tell the Difference

Since sinus toothache and dental toothache symptoms overlap, it’s hard to tell whether a toothache in the upper jaw comes from a sinus infection or from a dental problem.

What Causes a Sinus Related Toothache?

The roots of the upper back molars extend into the maxillary sinus cavities directly behind the cheek bones. Consequently, when the maxillary sinuses become infected, trapped puss causes increased pressure, which then pushes down on the roots and displacing them slightly.

This makes the upper jaw ache, followed by a throbbing toothache.

In addition, the maxillary sinuses are the most commonly infected sinuses in the human skull.

Since the lowest pockets in the maxillary sinus cavities are below the outlet leading to the nostril, gravity assisted drainage is impaired, and this leads to the formation of stagnant pools of mucous – the ideal breeding ground for bacteria.


Bacteria then proliferate and attack the mucous membranes lining the maxillary cavity. Consequently, the infected membranes produce increasing amounts of puss, leading to internal pressure, and ultimately, toothache.

To confuse the issue, if the toothache is caused by tooth decay or other dental problems, “referred” pain will extend up the U shaped root cavity (called the alveolar), and into the maxillary sinus. This will also cause facial tenderness swelling in the cheek area and toothache in the upper jaw.



How To Tell The Difference

Sinus Related Toothache

Dental Related Toothache

  • This usually accompanies sinus infection in the Maxillary sinuses.
  • Dental toothache is caused by tooth or gum disease and can be identified by the absence of sinus infection symptoms.
  • Sinus related toothaches occur when pressure build-up from maxillary sinus infection presses down on the exposed roots of the upper back molars.
  • Dental toothache can affect any of your teeth, both in the upper and lower jaw. If toothache occurs in the lower jaw, it is caused by dental problems and not by sinus infection.
  • Sinus toothaches include:
  1. Facial swelling
  2. Tender cheeks
  3. Swollen gums
  4. Other sinusitis symptoms
  • Dental toothaches  include:
  1. Facial swelling
  2. Swollen gums
  3. Facial tenderness


Can Dental Disease Cause Sinusitis?

If the rear upper molars become infected, the answer is yes.

As mentioned above, the Maxillary sinuses and the mouth (oral cavity) are connected by a U shaped opening called the alveolar. This cavity is occupied by the roots of the upper back molars.

If you suffer from periodontal disease (gingivitis) or develop an abscess below the gum line, bacteria will tend to migrate up the alveolar and invade the maxillary sinuses, thereby causing sinus infection.

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Mayo Clinic: Can sinus infection cause a toothache?

New Health Guide: Is this a tooth ache or a sinus infection?

Dental Care Matters: What is Sinusitis and Why Can it Cause Toothache?


Back to Home Remedy Site home page, from Sinus Toothache