IT MIGHT NOT SEEM like sinus infections could have anything to do with our teeth, but endodontists know very well that they do. Tooth decay, cavities, and infections can indeed overlap with headaches and sinus problems. In some cases, a patient might only experience sinus problems, instead of any symptoms that would point to a dental issue, and they go to their regular doctor for help instead of a dental professional.
How a Tooth Infection Works
Tooth infections start out when acid-producing oral bacteria or acid from food and drink chews a hole through the enamel of a tooth, forming a cavity. Without treatment, bacteria will grow inside the cavity and work its way deeper until it reaches the pulp chamber where the nerves and blood vessels are. Once the bacteria reaches the pulp, it can spread down to the roots of the tooth. This is the point at which biting down can become painful.
When a Tooth Infection Spreads Beyond the Tooth
Sometimes the tooth infection doesn’t hurt. If an upper molar becomes infected, the infection can work its way into the sinuses, which is how it can cause sinus infections. Patients and clinicians don’t always recognize that this is what’s happening, resulting in incorrect diagnoses. The clinician then recommends treatment for a sinus infection instead of an infected tooth, and the original cause of the infection isn’t treated. At this point, the patient may develop maxillary sinusitis of endodontic origin (MSEO).
What Are the Symptoms of MSEO?
The symptoms of MSEO, unsurprisingly, look a lot like symptoms of a regular sinus infection: runny nose, congestion, post-nasal drip, a foul odor and taste, and facial pain. The typical symptoms of tooth infection, like temperature sensitivity, tenderness while chewing, and tooth pain tend to be absent. The tooth has already died, and the pressure that normally builds painfully around an infected tooth is able to escape into the maxillary sinuses instead.
The Solution for MSEO Is Endodontic Treatment
Doctors or ear, nose, and throat specialists can treat recurring sinus infections for years without realizing they’re being fueled by an infected tooth. Prescribed antibiotics temporarily relieve the symptoms, but they can’t eliminate the source of the bacteria, which is the tooth. The only solution that will actually put a stop to sinus infections like this is root canal therapy.
The relationship between teeth and sinus infections can go the other way too!
Have Sinus Pain? Schedule Your Appointment.
If you’ve had a lot of sinus trouble, particularly if it always seems to last longer than a cold or keeps coming back, consider scheduling an appointment with us. We can determine whether the cause is an infected tooth. If it is, endodontic treatment can save the tooth and stop sinus infections!