Not All Toothaches Are Tooth Related


When we have a pain in our teeth we automatically assume that the tooth is the source of the pain. Though this may be true in most cases, there are some instances where your tooth pain may actually be caused by something other than you teeth. This type of pain is called Referred pain. Referred pain is pain perceived at a location other than the site of the actual source of the pain. Below are two of the more common sources of referred pain than can result in achy or painful teeth.

Maxillary Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, and is a common problem for many people, and is a chronic problem for about 15% for the population. There are 7 sinuses in the head, one of which is called the Maxillary sinus. The Maxillary is the most commonly infected sinus. One of the symptoms of maxillary sinusitis is pain that can mimic the pain of toothaches.

Additional signs and symptoms of Maxillary Sinusitis:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Tenderness of the sinuses
  • Headache
  • Bad breath
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders)

TMJ is a disorder of the jaw joint and chewing muscles that can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw, face, or neck. It is estimated that over 10 million Americans are affected by TMJ issues. The condition also appears to be more common in women than men. TMJ can be caused by a number of things including a bad bite, trauma to the jaw, or grinding of the teeth, called Bruxism. Pain can sometimes be felt in the teeth as a form of referred pain due to TMJ disorders.

Additional Signs and symptoms of TMJ:

  • Jaw Pain
  • Discomfort when biting or chewing
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • Dull, aching pain in the face

Ruling Out Non-Dental Causes

When experiencing tooth pain it is important to first rule out any dental causes. You dentist can conduct an examination to detect any dental issues that may be causing the pain. If no dental cause is detected you dentist may be instrumental in helping you to potentially identifying what may be causing the referred pain.

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