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From Dental to Nasal: How a Tooth Can Cause a Sinus Infection

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Sinus infections are generally caused by colds or allergic reactions. Once breathed in, a cold virus or a hint of secondhand smoke from a nearby cigarette causes one or more of the sinus cavities to become inflamed. Shortly after, the headaches, congestion and toothaches begin. However, while it is well known that teeth can also ache during a bout of sinusitis, few people are aware that teeth themselves can also cause sinusitis.

When you consider the proximity of the upper teeth, especially the roots of the first, second, and third molars, to the maxillary sinus cavities, it is not difficult to imagine that teeth may also cause a sinus infection. In fact, sinusitis could occur because of teeth in two ways.

An Infected Tooth Can Cause Sinusitis

According to research, around 10% of sinus infections are caused by a dental issue--in other words, those infections began as an issue with a tooth or teeth. Moreover, the maxillary sinus chambers, the pair of chambers directly above the upper teeth, are the most commonly infected sinus cavities of the 4 pairs. One way in which infection can occur is via an abscessed tooth.

Because the roots of your upper teeth are often only separated from the sinus chamber above them by a thin layer of skin, if they become infected, that infection may spread to the sinus cavity. An abscess is essentially just a pocket of infection within gum or bone tissue. Should an abscess be in close proximity to the maxillary sinus then, the infection could spread, leading to sinusitis.

Therefore, if one of your upper molars needs dental work and you are prone to sinus infections, get to a dentist quickly.

Dental Work Can Harbour Bacteria

When upper teeth are restored with bridges or crowns, they can become breeding grounds for sinusitis-causing bacteria. For example, when a crown leaks, which is when bacteria are able to gain access to the area between a tooth and the restoration, bacteria can flourish in relative safety. This bacteria can then make its way into the sinus cavity, causing chronic sinusitis which could last months or even years.

Keep this in mind then if you have been suffering with chronic sinusitis. It could be caused by faulty or old dental work.

If you have been suffering from sinusitis for what seems like a lifetime, you need to ask your doctor or dentist to perform an X-ray of the area. This will help them to ascertain whether or not your upper teeth are playing a role or not. Keep your teeth in good shape too because extractions of the upper teeth can also lead to sinusitis.