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Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I’m Sick?

When we’re sick, our main focus is on getting better, and we often neglect the surprising ways our illnesses can affect our dental health. But have you ever considered why your teeth seem to join in the chorus of discomfort when you’re feeling under the weather?

In this article, we’ll explore why sickness often leads to tooth pain and ensure you understand the interactions between your overall health and oral well-being.


5 Reasons Why Teeth Hurt When Sick


1. Sinus Pressure and Upper Teeth

The sinus cavities, or air-filled cavities, are hollow spaces near your upper teeth. When these are infected due to illnesses such as acute sinusitis or the common cold, which causes sinus congestion, pressure is exerted on your teeth, causing tooth pain. Sinus pain is often experienced in the upper rear teeth closer to the sinus cavities.


2. Dry Mouth and Reduced Saliva

A decrease in saliva production, often due to mouth breathing due to congested nasal passages, is a common symptom during sickness. Dry mouth can also be a bothersome symptom of certain illnesses like flu and cold. Lack of saliva can lead to bacterial growth, putting you at risk of tooth decay. Maintaining good oral health habits and drinking plenty of fluids can alleviate this.


3. Acidic Foods and Drinks

During sickness, comfort foods, hot beverages, acidic foods and cough drops are common remedies. However, these can cause tooth sensitivity. The sugar and acid can wear down tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay. Always try to balance these with drinking water and oral hygiene routines.


4. Gum Disease and Bacterial Infections

Persistent bad breath during illness can hint at underlying dental issues such as gum disease or tooth abscess. These can be due to bacterial infections, which may have been worsened by decreased saliva production.


5. Neglected Dental Hygiene

During sickness, our regular oral hygiene may take a backseat. This lapse can cause plaque and bacterial buildup that may lead to tooth discomfort and gum tissue inflammation. Even when feeling under the weather, maintain your dental hygiene routine and ensure you’re providing proper care to your teeth.


How Can Sicknesses Affect Oral Health?


  • Oral Infections. Diseases that compromise the immune system, like diabetes or leukemia, can increase the probability of oral infections, such as cavities or periodontitis. This is because a weakened immune system makes it harder for the body to fight off bacteria.
  • Medication Effects. Medications used to manage chronic diseases can negatively impact oral health. Some medicines cause dry mouth, which can lead to cavities and mouth sores.
  • Increased Acid Levels. Conditions like acid reflux or vomiting due to an illness can increase the acidity levels in the mouth. This acid can erode tooth enamel and may lead to cavities and sensitivity.
  • Poor Nutrition. When you’re sick, it can disrupt normal eating patterns, leading to malnutrition. Poor diet affects gum health and can leave teeth weak and vulnerable to damage and infections.
  • Weakened Immune System. Sicknesses can weaken the immune system and may increase the likelihood of oral infections and diseases. This, coupled with a lowered healing ability, can negatively affect oral health.
  • Respiratory Infections. There is evidence linking poor oral health with respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, caused by breathing in bacteria from the mouth into the lungs.


Tips to Reduce Dental Pain When You’re Sick


Stay Hydrated to Combat Dry Mouth

When you’re sick, dehydration can sneak up and cause dry mouth. Your mouth relies on saliva to fight bacteria and wash away food particles. Without it, you’re at an increased risk of dental issues like tooth decay. To keep your mouth moist and reduce tooth discomfort, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.


Use Warm Salt Water Rinses for Tooth Sensitivity

A warm salt water rinse can be soothing if you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity or sore throats. Saltwater naturally reduces inflammation, helping to ease dental pain and sore throats. Simply mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle it a couple of times daily. This remedy helps keep your mouth clean and can prevent the discomfort from escalating into more serious dental issues.


Address Sinus Infection

A sinus infection, or acute sinusitis, can cause more than just a stuffy nose; it can lead to tooth pain as well. Consider over-the-counter medications designed to reduce sinus pressure and inflammation to alleviate this sharp pain. However, it’s important to use them as directed and consult with a healthcare provider to ensure they’re safe for you.


Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is crucial, especially when you’re sick. Illness can make your mouth more susceptible to bacteria that may cause periodontal disease and tooth loss. Brush gently with fluoride toothpaste, use floss to remove debris between teeth, and consider an antibacterial mouthwash.


Avoid Hard and Sticky Foods

When experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain while sick, it’s wise to avoid hard and sticky foods. These types of foods can exacerbate dental pain and potentially lead to further damage. Instead, choose soft foods requiring minimal chewing, such as yogurt, smoothies, and soups. Protecting your teeth from additional stress can aid in the healing process and lessen discomfort.


Apply Cold Compresses for Swelling and Pain

If you’re experiencing swelling and dental pain, applying a cold compress to the outside of your cheek can offer relief. The cold helps reduce swelling and numbs the area, decreasing the pain. Remember not to apply ice directly to your skin; wrap it in a clean cloth to prevent skin damage. Use the cold compress in intervals of 20 minutes to allow your skin to return to its normal temperature between applications.


Keep Your Head Elevated

When you’re lying down, make sure to elevate your head with extra pillows. This can prevent blood from pooling in your head, which might worsen tooth pain, especially if related to sinus pressure. An elevated head helps reduce pressure and can make sleeping or resting more comfortable when dealing with dental issues.


Is It Natural for Teeth to Hurt When Sick?

Yes, it can be natural for your teeth to hurt when you’re sick. This is often due to sinus congestion or inflammation related to a common cold, flu, or sinusitis pushing on the areas around your teeth, leading to dental discomfort. While it might seem alarming, it’s your body’s natural reaction while fighting illness.


When to See the Dentist

If the toothache lingers or worsens even after your sickness improves, it’s time to visit the dentist. Keeping your dentist informed about persistent pain is essential for a holistic approach to your health. Remember that taking care of your oral health is crucial in supporting overall wellness and catching early signs of potential health issues.


Experiencing Dental Discomfort? Contact Kari Mann Dental Studio Now!

With what we’ve discussed in this article, we hope to have shed light on the question, “Why do my teeth hurt when I’m sick?” Understanding the link between your overall health and dental wellness is crucial, especially when you’re sick. The discomfort you feel in your teeth during illness is not only common, but it’s also a gentle reminder of how interconnected our body systems are and the role oral health plays in our general well-being.

At Kari Mann Dental Studio, we encourage you to maintain diligent oral hygiene, even when under the weather, to protect your teeth and gums from the added challenges of sickness. If you’re experiencing persistent tooth discomfort or have concerns about oral health, don’t hesitate to call us. Your health is our priority, and we’re here to support you on your wellness.

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