Colds and Your Oral Health


The Common Cold, Teeth, and Your Oral Health are More Connected Than You Think


No doubt that time of year where with seasons changing, colds are more common. Between the sniffling, sneezing, and other annoying cold symptoms, we’re sure you never stop and think, “Why do my teeth hurt when I have a cold?” Did you know that a sinus infection (sinusitis) or inflammation can cause a toothache? The upper rear teeth are close to the sinuses; and in fact, pain in the upper teeth is a fairly common symptom with sinus conditions.

Sinuses are air chambers that rest behind your cheeks, eyebrows, and jawbones. They have tiny hairs (“cilia”) inside them, which help clean out mucus and keep air chambers free of debris. However, when you get a cold, excess mucus can block the openings of the sinuses and bacteria begin to spread, which often results in illness.

All told, sinus infections cause 73 million days of “restricted activity” in the United States each year, according to a 1997 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are two types of sinusitis:
1) Acute Sinusitis is when symptoms are present for 4 weeks or less. It is caused by bacteria growing in the sinuses.
2) Chronic Sinusitis is when the swelling of the sinuses is present for longer than 3 months. It may be caused by bacteria or a fungus.

If you have a persistent toothache, first consult your dentist for an exam to consider possible dental causes for the toothache, such as periodontal disease, tooth grinding, cavities or dental abscesses. If your a dental cause for the toothache is ruled out, consult your doctor. He or she will consider whether a sinus condition or other underlying medical problem is contributing to the toothache.

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