Cold and flu season is upon us. You or your family members may have already experienced a cold or flu. If so, you may have noticed tooth pain and pressure while you were sick. What causes tooth pain and pressure when you have a cold or flu? And what can you do about it?
Tooth Pain and Pressure During Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season refers to the colder season where influenza and cold viruses tend to spread faster and cause more serious illnesses. Cold and flu season affects people throughout the world, even in warm climates. In the US, cold and flu season runs from October until May.
Cold temperatures don’t actually cause illness. Viruses are more prevalent during colder months for a variety of reasons. Some of these factors include an increase in indoor activity and closer proximity between people, faster, easier viral transmission in colder temperatures, and weaker sunlight resulting in less vitamin D and melatonin absorption, which weakens our immune systems.
Causes of Tooth Pain and Pressure With a Cold or Flu
When you have a cold or flu, you may notice pain or pressure in your teeth or gums. This is probably focused only on your upper teeth. You may feel pain or pressure in your teeth or gums when you have a cold or flu because your sinuses are blocked, swollen, or even infected.
Your sinuses are hollow cavities which connect to your nasal passages and rest just above your upper molars. When you have a cold or flu, you may have a lot of nasal congestion, which also fills your sinuses. This pressure and swelling in your sinuses can extend to your upper molars, causing pain and pressure.
How to Treat Tooth Pain and Pressure with a Cold or Flu
The best way to treat tooth pain and pressure when you have a cold or flu is to relieve sinus congestion and pressure. As your body fights off the cold or flu, you’ll probably notice less sinus and congestion. Cold and flu medicine that relieves sinus congestion and pressure can also help to relieve tooth pain.
Over-the-counter pain relief medication can also help. In particular, look for pain relievers that reduce swelling, like Advil, which contains ibuprofen, or Aleve, which contains naproxen. A warm compress over your nose, cheeks and eyes can also help relieve sinus pressure and congestion.
When to See a Doctor or Dentist
Usually, the tooth pain you feel while you have a cold or flu will go away on its own as your body fights off the illness. However, if the pain doesn’t go away, you may need to see a doctor or a dentist.
A cold or flu generally lasts 10 to 14 days. If your top teeth continue to hurt and you continue to feel sinus pressure after this time has elapsed, you should see a doctor. Your cold or flu may have become a sinus infection. A sinus infection might not go away on its own, and may require treatment with antibiotics.
If you notice tooth pain on only one tooth, sinus pressure might not be the problem. Usually, tooth pain caused by a cold or flu will affect all your top molars equally. Tooth pain that is focused on only one tooth might indicate other problems, like a cavity. Or, if you notice tooth pain on your bottom teeth, this is probably not due to your cold or flu. In this case, you should see a dentist as soon as you can.
You may have some tooth pain when you have a cold or a flu. This is a normal effect of sinus congestion and pressure. Over-the-counter pain medication can help, as well as cold and flu medicine that relieves sinus congestion. However, if the pain doesn’t go away, it affects only one tooth, or it affects your lower teeth, you should see your doctor or dentist. Get lots of sleep, stay hydrated, get a flu vaccine, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables to give your body every advantage against cold and flu season.