Woman soothing toothache with ice pack Woman soothing toothache with ice pack

Tooth Pain and Colds: What’s the Relation?


When you are suffering from a cold, you are feeling sick and there is congestion in your sinuses in your head, and this puts a lot of pressure on your upper jaw leading to pain in your upper teeth.

Your sinus tissues are highly impacted by cold and cough, and the accompanying symptoms like allergies, congestion, and infections make it worse.

Because of this, the teeth are under pressure and might even slide off from their position due to swelling in cavities, thus causing misalignment in your teeth when you are biting or chewing something.

1. Colds Cause Tooth Pain – Here is How

1.1. Sinus Pressure

Sinus cavities are present in various parts of the body and you can have pain in any one or even all of them at the same time and anytime.

Usually, sinus pain is perpetual in the background, like something dull but when accompanied by an abscessed tooth, the discomfort increases because the intensity of pain increases.

If the sinus infection is very acute then it can even cause the movement of your tooth from it’s place although just a little bit, but enough to change your bite.

Similarly, an abscessed tooth can also lead to an infection in the sinus cavity which might become very painful and tricky to handle.

1.2. Dry Mouth

If you have a cold, it is highly likely that you will have nasal congestion, which makes breathing through the nose really difficult.

In such a case, you breathe through your mouth, and breathing from the mouth basically leads to a dry mouth along with dry lips, gums, and teeth.

If you have a dry mouth it means that the saliva flow is less and so is the production which can also be attributed to some of the medications that we take to treat our cold.

Since saliva is basically a defense system from the mouth as it guards everything you eat or drink, having a reduced amount of saliva will encourage the growth of bacterial infection in and around your teeth, which in turn leads to tooth decay and gum infections/diseases.

You are already sick, you are having a problem breathing and sleeping to add to that, due to a dry mouth it becomes difficult to chew and swallow.

How Colds Can Cause Tooth Pain
Source: Unlimphotos

So, now eating food is a problem, so how will you get nutrients to treat yourself?

1.3. Sore Throat

Due to their proximity in the mouth, your jaw and your throat actually do affect each other.

You tend to develop a sore throat when you have a cold, symptoms of which include coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.

Now if you have an infected tooth specifically the wisdom tooth at the back of your mouth, that could lead to pain in your lymph nodes due to swelling, which is synonymous with the pain you would have during sinusitis.

The difference is that when the pain originates from your throat towards your teeth it also gives you swelling in the face and jaw, bad taste in your mouth, and acute pain while you chew anything.

1.4. Bad Breath

Sometimes we experience bad breath when we have a cold, the reason for that is postnasal drip. Let’s understand what is postnasal drip.

The excess mucus that leaks back into your mouth and throat is called postnasal drip. It causes colds, allergies, and bacterial infections.

How Colds Can Cause Tooth Pain
Source: Unlimphotos

This is because the mucus leak creates an environment that supports the growth of bacteria, which gives foul odor.

2. How is the Tooth Pain Caused by Tooth Decay and Sinus Different?

There is a difference between the pain caused by tooth decay and that from sinus infection and the pain that is caused by an infected tooth is pulsating, very acute, and throbbing.

It does not decrease over time and the point of origin can be very easily determined as that tooth would have redness and swelling all around it.

However, the pain resulting from sinus pressure or inflammation of the sinus is more like a spread-out pain, it does not create a very painful situation and you can eat and drink even with the pain.

Also, this pain does lessen with time, because as the swelling in the sinus decreases, the congestion reduces and so does the pain.

3. Taking Care of Oral Health

Even when you are sick and feeling very groggy, your oral health should not be compromised. Indeed other than regular days, it is more important to maintain your teeth hygiene when you’re ill.

If not done, then you may end up having plaque in your teeth which can lead to gingivitis and even tooth decay.

This will indirectly affect your recovery from your illness, also because the body’s immune response is not focused as it has to deal with the bacteria growing in your mouth.

However, if you’re very sick and even movement is an issue then use an anti-bacterial mouthwash or rinse to keep your mouth as clean as you can.

4. Final Thoughts

Having a cold not just affects your breathing system but quite literally your whole body including your teeth. A primary reason behind tooth pain is sinus inflammation.

The maxillary sinus is just above the molars in the mouth, and anything affecting the sinuses affects the teeth.

Sinuses get affected when you have a cold due to pressure as explained above, which is why coughing or sneezing accentuates the pain. So, definitely cold, sinus, and congestion can lead to severe tooth discomfort and pain.

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by soubhik


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. This article is a game-changer! I’ve experienced tooth pain during colds, and now I know why. The concept and effect of sinus is entirely new for me but the way things were explained it felt like I have already read it many times before.

  2. Certainly the cold causes the tooth pain , the article explained it very well and the article also mentioned it’s remidies also it is the admirable part of the article and how to prevent from the tooth pain caused by cold is explained well in the article .

  3. Taking care of oral health is very important specially in winter. Winter leads to various pain and one of them is tooth pain. The reasons of tooth ache includes various reasons and as the article explained some of them are sore throat, sinus pressure, bad breath and dry mouth. Thus, we need to take good care of our oral health.

  4. Thank you for explaining how a cold can cause tooth pain. The link between sinus pressure, dry mouth, sore throat, and bad breath during a cold was insightful. Maintaining oral hygiene, especially when sick, is crucial to prevent complications like plaque and gingivitis.

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