Sinus pain can mimic dental pain


Acute inflammation of the maxillary sinus - sinusitis is caused by inflammation of the lining of the sinus. Although not a dental condition the symptoms can often mimic toothache in the upper molar teeth. Sinusitis usually comes on after an upper respiratory tract infection (eg cold of flu). 


  • A dull, aching, boring pain which may spread to the upper teeth or forehead
  • Blocked nose
  • Tenderness to touch over the cheekbone area 
  • Usually continuous pain
  • Pain often made worse by bending down
  • Can be bilateral or unilateral

Home care advice

Acute Sinusitis can usually be managed by local measures and over the counter medication. 

Plenty of rest and fluids are important. Saline rinsing of the nose cavities or steam inhalations can also help.

Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and will help with the pain or products containing decongestants may be preferred but these should not be taken by children under 6

If symptoms are severe and are not relieved by the above measures or if you have a rising temperature then see a GP as a course of antibiotics may be necessary.

Written by Andrew Bain BDS MJDF (RCS Eng)
Apr 27, 2020