Is Good Weather Giving Your Patients a Toothache?

Over 7.8% percent of the US population suffers from allergies every spring, and those affected experience everything from itchy eyes and a runny nose to full-body hives, sinus infections and difficulty breathing. While these symptoms can be a serious nuisance, they are rarely painful. Or are they?

Sometimes, as the pollen count rises, patients arrive at their dentist’s office with the chief complaint of maxillary pain and pressure. This pain can be severe enough to convince patients (and some dentists) that a root canal or extraction may be necessary, and can even present convincing sensitivity to hot and cold. As pollen particles cause inflammation, mucous buildup and swelling in the sinuses, the inflamed tissue can actually exert force on the molar roots and nerves, mimicking pulpitis. Are you considering this source of idiopathic pain in your diagnoses?

Dental pain brought on by seasonal allergies can be treated with decongestants, antihistamines, and over-the-counter NSAIDs, but these remedies may take time to relieve the pain. An easy way for patients to relieve sinus pressure is to breathe steam. A common way to do this (aside from taking a hot shower) is to fill a bowl with water from the tea kettle and lean over it with a towel covering one’s head and the bowl. This method is highly effective and easy to do at home until symptoms improve.

However, severe cases of sinus toothache may require intranasal or oral steroids, antibiotics, or for chronic cases, nasal surgery to improve drainage and limit inflammation. This sort of treatment planning can only be accomplished by a consultation with a otorhinolaryngologist (ENT). Be sure to let your patient know that caring for their pain and discomfort is of the utmost importance to you, and remind them you are helping them to avoid unnecessary dental work by seeing an ENT before scheduling dental treatment.

DeSerio, E., & DeSerio, E. (2017). What Are the Treatments for a Sinus Toothache?. LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved 3 April 2017, from

How seasonal allergies can affect your oral health - Delta Dental. (2017). Retrieved 3 April 2017, from

Tooth Pain a Sign of Allergy Season, Reports (2017). 24-7 Press Release Newswire. Retrieved 3 April 2017, from

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