When the sinuses become inflamed, a condition known as sinusitis, the effects can be felt in unexpected places. Due to the positioning of two of the largest sinuses, there is a link between sinus and jaw pain. By treating one’s sinusitis, it is usually possible to relieve pain in both places. It should be noted, however, that a dental infection may sometimes be to blame instead.
The sinuses are air-filled, mucus-membrane-lined cavities found within the skull. Each person has four sets of sinuses, which are spread over the front part of the head. Occasionally, one or more of these sinuses can become blocked by excess mucus. Such a blockage creates a warm, moist environment that can prove welcoming to bacteria and other foreign bodies. When the sinuses are infected by these foreign bodies, they become inflamed.
As they swell, infected sinuses can put pressure on nearby body parts. Simultaneous sinus and jaw pain usually occurs due to an infection of the maxillary sinus, which lies within the cheek area. A swollen maxillary sinus can put pressure on the upper jaw. This pressure often causes tenderness and pain in the jaw area, particularly at the area over the upper molars. Sometimes this pain is also joined by discomfort in the upper teeth and the ear.
By seeking treatment for one’s sinusitis, it is usually possible to relieve both sinus and jaw pain. Common treatments for sinusitis include nasal sprays, which can reduce swelling and clear away excess mucus, and in the case of bacterial infections, antibiotics. Steaming and rinsing the nasal passages can also temporarily reduce sinus swelling. As this swelling subsides, pressure to areas like the jaw is eased, providing relief from sinus-related pain.
It should be noted that sometimes a dental problem may be to blame for sinus and jaw pain. A tooth cavity that has become infected can spread bacteria to other parts of the head, including the sinuses, which may then also become infected. If left untreated, this infection can continue to spread throughout the body, potentially causing organ damage or even death. Those experiencing persistent pain in the jaw and sinuses should consider visiting a dentist to determine whether the pain is caused by a dental infection. If a dental problem indeed exists, a root canal may be needed to eliminate the pain and prevent spreading the infection any further.