Experiencing tooth pain when you’re unwell is a common experience, leaving many people wondering, “Why do my teeth hurt when I’m sick?” The discomfort can stem from several reasons, including sinus issues, dehydration, and bacterial infections.
This article will delve into why your teeth hurt when sick and suggest alleviating tooth discomfort during illness.
Understanding Why Teeth Hurt When Sick
When you’re under the weather, your body can exhibit a range of symptoms; surprisingly, tooth pain can be one of them. Even though toothaches are typically associated with dental issues, they can also occur due to certain illnesses.
1. Sinus Infection and Tooth Pain
A sinus infection is one of the primary reasons your teeth might hurt when you’re sick. The maxillary sinuses and air-filled cavities near your upper molars can inflame during illness. The pressure from this inflammation can lead to discomfort in your upper back teeth, mimicking a toothache. This is particularly common with conditions like the common cold or acute sinusitis.
2. Dehydration and Dry Mouth
Another cause of tooth discomfort during sickness is dehydration. When you’re sick, especially with a fever, your body can lose fluids rapidly, leading to a dry mouth. Saliva production is crucial for washing away oral bacteria and neutralizing acidic foods and drinks that can lead to tooth decay. A reduction in saliva can leave your teeth more vulnerable to decay and sensitivity.
3. Effect of Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections can have a significant impact on your body, and they can also indirectly affect your dental health. Here’s how:
- Referred Pain: The human body is a network of interconnected nerves, including the nerves in our teeth. When a bacterial infection occurs in one part of the body, it can trigger pain signals that are felt in the teeth. This is known as referred pain.
- Sore Throat: A common bacterial infection is a sore throat, often caused by Streptococcus bacteria. This infection causes inflammation and pain in the throat, which can radiate to the teeth due to the proximity of nerve endings.
- Ear Infections: Similarly, bacterial ear infections can also lead to dental pain. The nerves that provide sensation to the lower teeth also connect to the ear, so an infection in the ear can cause pain to be felt in the teeth.
- Sinus Infections: Bacterial sinus infections can cause pressure and pain in the sinus cavity, which is close to the roots of your upper teeth. This can often be felt as toothache.
It’s important to remember that the pain is a symptom of the bacterial infection and not a dental problem. Therefore, treating the underlying condition should alleviate the dental pain. However, if the pain persists after the infection has cleared, it would be wise to consult a dentist to rule out any dental issues.
How Illness Can Affect Oral Health
Illness can have a significant impact on your oral health in various ways.
- Altered Taste Sensations: Many illnesses can lead to a reduced sense of taste. This altered sense of taste can often result in cravings for sugary snacks and drinks, which are detrimental to oral health. Regularly consuming these high-sugar foods and beverages can increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Medication-Related Issues: Over-the-counter medications used to treat illness symptoms can also threaten oral health. For instance, many cough drops and cold remedies are high in sugar. Frequent use of such medications can contribute to tooth decay. Additionally, some medicines cause dry mouth, which reduces saliva production. Saliva is essential for neutralizing acids and washing away food particles, so a decrease in saliva can make your mouth more susceptible to cavities.
- Exacerbation of Periodontal Disease: Illness can worsen conditions like periodontal (gum) disease. The immune system’s response can sometimes inflame the gum tissue when the body is battling sickness. This inflammation can cause gum pain and potentially aggravate existing dental issues.
- Oral Infections: Certain illnesses, particularly those that compromise the immune system, can increase the risk of oral infections. These infections can lead to various dental problems, including gum disease and tooth loss.
- Neglect of Oral Hygiene: Individuals may neglect their oral hygiene routines when dealing with illness, especially chronic or severe conditions. This neglect can lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum disease.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Some illnesses affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to deficiencies that can harm oral health. For instance, a lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy, which causes swelling, bleeding gums, and tooth loss.
How to Reduce Tooth Discomfort During Sickness
Navigating through the discomfort of sickness can be challenging, but when toothache adds to your woes, it becomes increasingly difficult. This tooth discomfort during illness can result from factors such as sinus pressure or other related conditions.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial when you’re sick. Brush your teeth at night and in the morning using a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent irritating sensitive teeth or inflamed gums. Floss daily to remove food particles and bacteria from between your teeth.
Drinking plenty of fluids can help combat the dry mouth associated with many illnesses. Opt for warm water or other hot beverages, as they can soothe a sore throat while keeping you hydrated. Avoid cold temperatures that can increase tooth sensitivity, and steer clear of acidic drinks and sugary foods that contribute to tooth decay.
Use Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relief medication can temporarily relieve tooth discomfort and sinus pain. However, if pain persists, seeking professional dental services is essential.
Consult a Dentist
If you experience persistent pain, sudden tooth pain, or have a sore tooth, it’s essential to schedule an urgent appointment with your family dentist. They can assess your oral health, identify dental issues like decayed teeth or periodontal disease, and provide appropriate treatment options.
Use a Night Guard
If your teeth hurt more at night due to nighttime nasal congestion leading to teeth grinding, consider using a night guard. This can protect your teeth from additional wear and tear.
Understanding “why my teeth hurt when I’m sick” can help alleviate discomfort. From sinus infections affecting your upper teeth to dry mouth increasing tooth sensitivity, there are many reasons why illness can lead to dental pain.
Remember to maintain good oral hygiene, stay hydrated, use over-the-counter analgesics, and consult a dentist regularly. Understanding the connection between oral health and overall wellness can better manage discomfort and keep your smile healthy, even under the weather.