Fact Checked

Sinusitis: Maxillary Sinus Tooth Pain and Infection Causes

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

October 29, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

From pressure headaches to a clogged nose, the symptoms of sinusitis can be extremely uncomfortable and challenging to deal with.

Sinusitis can also cause tooth pain. Beginning in your maxillary sinuses, just above your molar teeth roots, your sinus cavity swells with mucus. This mucus put pressure on your dental nerve endings and sends pain signals to your teeth, leading to tooth pain in your upper teeth.

Your sinuses

You have four pairs of paranasal sinuses:

  • Ethmoid sinuses
  • Frontal sinuses
  • Sphenoid sinuses
  • Maxillary sinuses

They produce mucus that keeps your nose moisturized and protect it from germs and irritants. If they become blocked, your sinuses are not protected by germs and can become infected.

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Infected sinuses

When your blocked sinuses are infected, they swell up. The mucous build-up and swelling in your sinuses put pressure on the nerves running to the roots of your teeth. This can cause tooth pain.

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, is inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining your sinuses. When you have a sinus infection, you may feel pain and pressure in your head, face, and even your teeth.

Sinusitis causes

Sinusitis is fairly common and is usually caused when bacteria, a virus, or fungus from your nose enters your sinus cavity. The common cold or allergies can also cause a sinus infection.

It is also possible to have odontogenic sinusitis. This is when a dental infection and its bacteria reach your maxillary sinus, causing odontogenic maxillary sinusitis.

Sinusitis symptoms

The following symptoms of chronic or acute sinusitis are:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Stuffy nose
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Tenderness or swelling in your cheekbones
  • Fatigue
  • Sinus toothache
  • Post nasal drip which leads to sore throat

Sinus tooth pain

If you have similar symptoms to a sinus infection as well as tooth pain, you may be suffering from tooth pain caused by sinusitis.

Maxillary sinuses and maxillary sinus tooth pain

These sinuses are located in your cheek and are the largest sinuses. Tooth pain related to this is usually only felt in your maxillary teeth. This is because the roots of these teeth and your jawbone are in close proximity to your maxillary sinuses.

You can have chronic maxillary sinusitis, an infection lasting less than 4 weeks, or acute maxillary sinusitis, an infection lasting more than 4 weeks.

Sinus infection toothaches

If you have a toothache related to acute or chronic maxillary sinusitis, you may feel facial pain and pain and pressure on the nerves of your teeth. It may even be a throbbing, intense pain, because of the pressure on the nerves to the teeth. The pain is often not too severe, but it can feel very uncomfortable.


Sinus-related tooth pain or dental toothache can present differently. A toothache related to a sinus infection usually:

  • Is felt only in the maxillary teeth or your upper, back molars
  • Feels like continued discomfort or pressure, or referred pain
  • Comes together with other sinus infection symptoms like fatigue, headache, bad breath, postnatal drip, or congestion
  • Feels worse when you move your head, stand, or bend down

Dental toothache symptoms

If the pain is dental related, other symptoms include:

  • Pain only on one tooth, possibly the lower teeth unlike sinus tooth pain
  • Sensitive teeth when you eat hot or cold foods
  • More severe pain than a sinusitis-related toothache

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Sinusitis tooth pain treatment

If you are looking to get rid of your sinus infection tooth pain, you will first need to treat the sinus infection.

Resolving the sinus inflammation is important and once you are able to do this, the pressure on the nerves of your maxillary teeth should release. This will allow your sinus-related toothache to subside.

Treating the sinus infection

To manage pain in the upper teeth and the sinus infection, you can treat sinus infections with:

  • Pain relief medications
  • Nasal spray
  • Decongestants

Tooth pain caused by a dental issue won't respond to the above treatment for a sinus infection. It important to be seen by your dentist to see if the dental cause is actually a dental problem such as tooth decay. If left untreated, a sinus infection could cause serious issues related to your central nervous system, so it is crucial to see your doctor if it does not subside.

Sinusitis home remedies

Here are some remedies that you can try at home to relieve your sinus tooth pain:

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated helps to thin the mucous that is stuck in your nasal cavity and your sinus. Drink the recommended amount of water, and supplement with coconut water and other fluids that can boost your immune system.

Use warm compresses

Applying a warm compress to your forehead and cheeks can help to open up your sinus cavities and relieve swelling. This can help to alleviate the pain and pressure you may feel in your teeth or your head.

Warm up a damp washcloth and place it over your forehead for around 10-15 minutes. Try this a few times a day.

Take a warm bath or shower

The heat and the steam from your bath or shower can relieve swelling and open up your sinuses. When you shower, make sure that the water is warm and toasty, and stay for a few minutes.

Eat spicy foods

Chili, wasabi, horseradish, or other spicy foods are your friends when you have a sinus infection. Some of these foods have mucus-thinning properties which cause your nose to run and nasal passages to unclog.

Try a nasal rinse

Use a nasal rinse like a neti pot to clear out your sinuses. Place your head in a tilted position, and gently allow the water to drain from one nostril to the other.

Oral care tips for sinus tooth pain

If you are suffering from a sinus infection and sinus tooth pain, it can be challenging to brush and floss your teeth well due to the pain. However, it is important to stick to your oral care routine despite tooth pain.

You can switch to a softer toothbrush or sensitive toothpaste if you are dealing with discomfort. See your dentist if you try sinus infection remedies and your sinus tooth pain does not subside.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you stop maxillary sinus pain?

The best thing to do if you are experiencing sinus infection tooth pain or pain from maxillary sinusitis is to treat the sinus infection. You can use over-the-counter decongestants or pain relief medications or try the home remedies listed above.

How do I know if my toothache is a sinus infection?

Usually, a regular toothache's pain is in one specific tooth. The pain is usually more severe than sinus infection tooth pain, and the tooth often feels sensitive when you eat cold or hot foods. It may be related to tooth decay or another dental issue.

Tooth pain related to sinus infections is usually felt in your back, upper teeth. These are known as your maxillary teeth. The pain will likely come with other signs of a sinus infection.

What does a sinus toothache feel like?

A sinus toothache may feel similar to a dental toothache, however, the pain is usually not as severe and is felt in your upper, back molars only. It will likely feel uncomfortable and constant, and worse when you stand, bend, or move your head.

How do you relieve sinus pressure in your teeth?

You can relieve tooth pain due to a sinus condition or sinus pressure by draining your nasal and sinus passages thinning your mucous. Try home remedies listed above and take medications or nasal sprays to ease discomfort and pain.

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Sinus infections are characterized by inflamed or swollen tissue lining your sinuses. You can have an acute sinus infection or a chronic sinus infection.

If you have a sinus infection, you may also have dental pain. If you feel this pain in your upper back teeth or upper molars and have other sinus infection symptoms, you likely have a toothache caused by sinusitis.

Many remedies can provide relief to this pain including over-the-counter pain medications and decongestants, a saline solution nasal rinse, nasal sprays, spicy foods, or warm showers and compresses.

If your dental pain does not subside after treating the sinus infection, it is best to see your dentist to see if you have a different dental problem or a dental disease like tooth decay or gum disease.