Published Nov 23, 2020
Your sinuses comprise more than just your nose and nasal passages. They’re actually a series of connected cavities found in different parts of your skull. Often, when people experience jaw pain, they immediately point their finger to joint problems. However, this isn’t always the case. Let’s talk about sinus infections and jaw pain.
Can sinus infections cause jaw pain?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that sinus infections lead to many symptoms across your entire face or skull.
As we’ve mentioned before, the sinuses are the connected cavities within the skull. When healthy, these cavities are almost entirely hollow except for the thin lining of soft, pink tissue called the mucosa. However, pathogens can cause infection (sinusitis) within the sinuses, causing this lining to become inflamed and swell up.
The inflamed lining of the sinuses can cause mucus blockage, causing your head to feel stuffy and heavy. This also causes pressure to build up within your cavities, which can make your skin and other surrounding areas tender or painful.
Likely conditions leading to jaw pain
Sinusitis is notorious for causing oral and facial pain. Research has shown that dentists, tending to orofacial pain, point to sinus infections as one of the leading local causes. One possible cause of your jaw pain could be sinusitis in the maxillary sinuses, found behind your cheeks and under your eyes.
The maxillary sinus drains into the nose through a passage called the ostia, which is found at the top of this cavity. This physiological structure makes it comparatively more difficult to drain compared to the other sinus cavities.
Common symptoms of a sinus infection include the following:
- Facial pain or pressure
- Nasal congestion or discharge
- Reduced ability to smell
- Bad breath
- Dental pain
- Ear pain, pressure, and fullness
- Post nasal drip (mucus dripping in the throat)
When you come down with a sinus infection, your doctor may put you on the following treatments:
- Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections
- Antihistamines to treat sinusitis symptoms caused by allergic rhinitis
- Decongestants reduce the amount of mucus in the sinuses. These usually come in the form of nasal sprays.
- Nasal irrigation with a neti pot and saltwater helps clear your nasal passages by washing out dried mucus and other allergens. This is a relatively simple and effective remedy that just about anybody can do at home.
- Nasal saline sprays help keep the nasal passages moist and break up the dried mucus.
Nasal corticosteroid sprays help reduce swelling and mucus in the nasal passageway. They’re effective at treating symptoms caused by allergic rhinitis and nasal polyps.
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