What exactly are your sinuses, and why are they bothering you?

Your sinuses are sets of hollow spots in your skull that connect to the nasal cavity. Because all those cavities are connected, if one experiences a problem, all the others follow suit. Sinus infections occur when those cavities become inflamed and start to overproduce mucus. Sinusitis itself has many causes, including allergies and the common cold.

However, everything in your skull is connected—including your jaws and teeth. Sinus pain in teeth is not uncommon in somebody with chronic sinusitis, as your largest sinuses sit right above your upper back teeth. Swelling in that area can cause pain to both your jaw and your sinuses. Because of this connection, infection can run the other way as well. Dental sinus infection symptoms can begin with an infected tooth and travel to the sinuses. If your tooth pain and sinus infections are connected, you can work with a sinus specialist and a dentist to quell the infection on both ends.

The pain of a tooth or sinus infection may keep you up at night. But if you haven’t been sleeping well in general, another root cause may be the culprit.

When you fall asleep at night, the muscles around your mouth, nose, and jaw all relax—sometimes a little too much. If your soft palate collapses while you’re asleep, you lose airflow and need to wake up in order to breathe. Several other factors can play into that collapse, however. If your sinus cavities are inflamed and overfilled with mucus, there’s less space for air to get in.

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, sinus infection symptoms, and restless sleep all at once, the three could be connected. Sleep apnea and dental problems often go hand in hand, and it can take a sinus specialist to see that connection.

While sinus pain in teeth is often the cause of dental problems, don’t rule out sleep apnea as a cause instead of a result. Sleep apnea is often comorbid with bruxism (grinding one’s teeth), which can crack teeth and cause infections. Mouth-breathing, also common in sleep apnea sufferers, can also lead to tooth decay and gingivitis. Tooth pain can come from a multitude of places, and some of them are less obvious than others.

Sleep apnea, dental pain, and chronic sinus infections often occur together, with each one being either a cause or a symptom of the other. If you’ve got sinus pain in your teeth, especially your back teeth, make an appointment at Allergy & ENT Associates to narrow down the cause.