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What is the Connection Between Sinus and Jaw Pain?

M.C. Huguelet
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including The Health Board. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon989176 — On Feb 23, 2015

I was having intense pain at night. It would come on about 15 minutes after lying down in bed. I'd get a sharp pain under my jaw along with stuffy ear and sinus pressure. The first thing I thought about was a tooth infection. I had my no. 2 Molar upper right extracted about nine months ago. After about a week of painful sleepless night I got in to see my dentist. He pinched my nose close and told me to try and blow through my nose. He saw bubbles come out of the hole where my tooth was pulled. Now I need oral surgery to close the hole. It's allowing bacteria to form in my sinus causing inflammation. He wanted me to go to the emergency room right then. I'm waiting to get referred to an oral surgeon. Ron in Pacific WA

By cloudel — On Mar 05, 2012

I had jaw pain on one side of my face last year, and I thought it was probably sinus-related. I suffer from constant allergies, and though I treat them with antihistamines, I usually end up with at least a couple of sinus infections each year. These usually include pain in my nose, ears, and jaw.

However, I had my first appointment with a dentist in many years during this time, and he took one look at my teeth and asked me if I'd been having any jaw pain. He said that my teeth were misaligned, and I needed to have corrective surgery.

I was really bummed out to hear this. I had been hoping the pain was just from a regular old sinus infection and it would go away on its own. Instead, I had to have braces.

By StarJo — On Mar 04, 2012

@OeKc05 – I have never tried steaming my sinuses before, but it sounds like a good idea. Decongestants usually work to relieve my sinus pain and pressure, and this makes my jaw feel better.

Some people can't take over-the-counter decongestants, because the active ingredient can cause heart palpitations and nervousness. My cousin gets the shakes so bad when she takes them that she can't even hold a glass. I'm one of the lucky ones, though, because they work great for me.

So far, I've never had a sinus infection with jaw pain that decongestants couldn't fix. If I ever do, I'll try your hot water method, though. It sounds simple and inexpensive.

By shell4life — On Mar 03, 2012

I have TMJ, so when I started experiencing jaw pain this winter, I just assumed it was due to that condition. My jaw pops every time I open my mouth wide, and though it isn't always painful, I can have episodes of pain that last for days.

However, I also had clogged nasal sinuses during this time. I just could not blow my nose enough to get it to where I could breathe through it. Also, my ears ached a little.

The pain got so annoying that I went to my doctor, who told me I had a bacterial sinus infection. After a few days on antibiotics, my jaw pain went away, so it was related to my sinus infection, after all.

By OeKc05 — On Mar 03, 2012

I had jaw pain from a sinus infection, but I did not have the money to see a doctor or buy a humidifier. I was miserable and desperately trying to treat my condition at home.

I kept popping ibuprofen for the pain, and to treat my nasal congestion, I used boiling water. I had a big pot of it on the stove, and I leaned over close to the water and draped a towel over my head to trap in the humidity.

It helped while I did it, but the effects didn't last long after I went away from the hot water. My sister saw me struggling to relieve my congestion this way, and she went and bought me a good humidifier. I was so grateful, because it provided constant relief, even while I slept.

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
Learn more
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