You are currently viewing Can Ear & Sinus Infections Cause Toothaches or Jaw Pain?

 

 Medically Reviewed by Dr. Charles Dennis, DMD, on November 3, 2022

Can a sinus or ear infection cause tooth and jaw pain? Yes, here’s why.

Whether it be flu or allergy season, sinus and ear infections are common for both children and adults. You might be experiencing a bout of tooth and jaw pain along with other cold-like symptoms. Is this related? It might be, and let’s find out why.

Are you feeling under the weather and also experiencing a toothache that seemingly came out of nowhere? While dental issues are not always related to illness, it is possible that your sinus infection (sinusitis) or ear infection is causing you tooth and jaw pain. As always, it’s important to set up an appointment with your dentist if the tooth pain continues, to rule out any other reasons such as cavities, infection, etc.

 

Can a sinus infection cause tooth and jaw pain?

Yes, sinusitis can cause a toothache, and it’s actually a common symptom when you have this diagnosis. Your sinuses are empty spaces that connect to your nasal cavity. They filter warm, moist air and produce mucus which under normal conditions, is healthy and a normal function.

When your sinuses get blocked, the sinus cavities can become inflamed, resulting in a sinus infection. When your maxillary sinuses, the cavities on both sides of your nose behind your cheekbones that are closest to your back teeth, become inflamed and filled with fluid, they put pressure on your teeth, causing sinus tooth pain. This is because the roots of your molars are very close to your maxillary sinuses.

If you find that the dull, aching pain in your teeth is spreading to other areas, such as your front or bottom teeth, it could be because of the transfer of pain through interconnected neurons in your mouth. However, this is less likely. Jaw pain can also occur due to the related pressure. Quick movements or physical activity may intensify this pressure, worsening tooth pain.

When you have a hard time breathing out of your nose, which can occur with blocked/inflamed sinuses, you may find yourself sleeping or breathing with your mouth open. This can quickly cause dry mouth, which with chronic sinusitis, can cause a breeding ground for bacteria, potentially leading to dental problems. See your dentist if this occurs frequently to ensure you’re free from any cavities, infection, or gingivitis.

 

Can an ear infection cause tooth and jaw pain?

Yes, a middle ear infection can cause a toothache. However, a toothache can also cause ear pain, so it is important to figure out which is the causing factor. An undiagnosed ear infection can cause people to experience pain in their teeth and jaw due to the proximity of your mouth to your ears.

If you feel pain in your ear(s), jaw, and teeth, it might be worth a trip to the doctor to rule out if you have an ear infection and to get proper treatment. Ear infections are easily treated and will most likely go away within one to two weeks.

 

How do I tell the difference between a toothache/jaw pain and a sinus or ear infection?

A toothache will in all likelihood only affect one tooth, while a sinus or ear infection causes pressure in the back of your mouth, affecting multiple teeth.

 

Symptoms of a toothache include…

  • Pain in and/or around the tooth
  • Inflammation of your gums
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen glands
  • Sensitivity when eating/drinking hot or cold things
  • Fever (which is a sign of infection)
  • Earache

Symptoms of Jaw Pain include…

  • A dull ache or sharp pain in the jaw area
  • Difficulty or discomfort while chewing
  • Popping or clicking sounds when opening or closing the mouth
  • Pain that radiates towards the ear or down the neck
  • A feeling of facial muscle fatigue
  • Sensitivity of teeth, even when dental issues have been ruled out
  • Swelling on one or both sides of the face
  • Locking of the jaw joint, which can make it hard to open or close your mouth

Symptoms Specific to TMJ

  • Ear pain without an infection
  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • A change in the alignment of the top and bottom teeth
  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

When it comes to understanding jaw pain, it’s crucial to recognize that the discomfort could stem from various issues, such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), toothaches, or even sinus and ear infections.

If you’re experiencing jaw pain alongside symptoms typically linked to sinus or ear infections—such as fever, headaches, and nasal congestion—the likelihood increases that your jaw pain might be related to these conditions rather than a dental issue or TMJ.

Symptoms of a sinus infection (sinusitis) include…

  • Facial pain or sinus pressure
  • This can occur between your eyes, on either side of your nose, your forehead, your jaw, and your teeth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Throat irritation, sore throat, or cough
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Headache

 

Symptoms of an ear infection include…

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage from ear
  • Trouble hearing
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Jaw pain
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sinus issues

 

Summary: Is an Ear or Sinus Infection the Hidden Cause of Your Tooth & Jaw Pain?

Both sinusitis and ear infections can be the cause of  both tooth and jaw pain, and tooth pain can also be the cause of an earache. It’s important to remember that a tooth infection, cavity, or gum disease will get worse over time, whereas your sickness should go away within 1 to 2 weeks. If you find that your toothache or jaw pain is persisting, contact your dentist to rule out other potential causes.

If you’re experiencing a persistent toothache that you can’t quite pinpoint the cause of in the Northeast PA, Scranton Area, Dr. Charles Dennis, DMD, and his team can help you here at Abington Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry. If the situation is severe, emergency dental care is available. Contact the office at (570) 587-4031 today.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. To answer the question if ear infection can cause a toothache, yes, it does. People with undiagnosed ear infection often experience pain in the jaw and teeth. This is because of the proximity of the ears to the said areas. If you experience ear ache, jaw pain and toothache, chances are you have an ear infection. The best way to find out is to go to a specialist. The good news is that such infection can be easily treated and usually goes away in two weeks time.

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