woman with toothacheYour upper teeth feel weird. You have a sense of a toothache, but it is broader than that normal and easily recognized feeling that a single toothache brings. It is tough to actually pinpoint the origin of your discomfort, but you know it is the top teeth. You bite down to see if maybe it is from clenching your teeth, but that really isn’t what you are experiencing.

If you feel generalized pressure and sensitivity in your top teeth, and you have a full feeling in your head that worsens if you bend over or lay down, your teeth may not be the problem at all. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid a visit to the dentist, because this is an issue that can eventually harm the teeth if ignored.

So what is the problem? A simple x-ray may reveal that it is quite likely the neighbors of your upper teeth are creating that aching feeling. The “neighbors” are the maxillary sinuses. These appear to sit directly on top of the roots of the upper teeth, and even when only slightly irritated by an infection or inflammation, they put downward pressure on the teeth. This elicits a sense of pain and discomfort that you can easily mistake for toothache.

What can you do about it? Your dentist will examine your teeth for “pulpitis” which can be reversed or treated through fillings, root canals, etc. If the teeth themselves don’t show a reaction to hot or cold, or dental probing, it means that it’s not the teeth or gums that are causing your discomfort – it is your sinuses.

As stated previously, your dentist can likely confirm this with an x-ray. The x-ray would show the sinuses to to have a cloudy appearance, that is consistent with fluid retention, resting on or near the teeth. This means that you would have to make a visit to a physician to get the appropriate treatment for the sinus problem. It could be something as simple as an OTC (over the counter) decongestant, or it might be that you need an antibiotic to rid the sinuses of infection.

Be careful about this sort of issue because infections in the sinuses can “migrate”. People can experience infections in the cartilage of the nose, the soft tissue of the face and gums, and even irritation in the mouth because of ongoing infection. Follow up immediately with your doctor if your dentist finds that you have an infection or problem with the maxillary sinuses. Treatment is easy and will relieve the dental discomfort right away.