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How Can a Cold Affect Your Teeth?

April 13, 2020 by christopher pupillo

Getting a cold makes life miserable for a while, but when it starts to affect your teeth too, you may be wondering if it is something more serious. However, pain and discomfort are common side effects of suffering from the common cold. If you would like to know more about how a cold can affect your teeth, keep reading.

Sinus Pain

A lot of people experience sinus pain when they are suffering from the common cold. When you have a cold, mucus builds up, which puts pressure on your sinuses. This can cause pain in any of the facial sinuses, but when felt in sinuses above the upper jaw, the pressure may also make your teeth hurt. The pain can be so severe, that patients believe they have a tooth infection or cavity.

Sinus pain with a cold is perfectly normal, but if your mucus changes from clear/white to green/yellow, you may have a sinus infection. Many people with a sinus infection may also have a postnasal drip (with a bad taste), toothaches in the upper back molars, bad breath, and loss of sense of smell. Some patients also develop a fever.

With a sinus infection, over-the-counter cold and pain medications may no longer be enough, and your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If your tooth pain continues after the sinus infection has been treated, visit your dentist to see if you have an underlying oral condition, such as an abscess.

Because the sinuses and upper teeth are so close, an infection in the sinus may pass to the tooth and vice versa. This is more common if your tooth roots are particularly close or invading the sinuses. A small crack in the root can be the perfect entry point for bacteria in the sinus.

Dry Mouth

Another complication of all that mucus is a stuffy nose, making it hard to breathe through your nose. As a result, you may have to breathe through your mouth all day and/or night, leading to dry mouth. Dry mouth is annoying, but it is also detrimental to your oral health.

Saliva naturally helps keep your mouth clean from sugar, plaque, acids, etc. Without this saliva, bacteria and plaque stick around, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Some patients with dry mouth have some saliva but it’s sticky or stringy. Instead of washing away debris and bacteria, this saliva sticks to your teeth.

Saliva is also important for holding dentures in place. While denture adhesive helps a little, saliva works like a suction cup to secure the dentures. Without enough saliva, your dentures will slip and move more easily.

The only real way to treat dry mouth during a cold is to take medications to help you breathe through your nose. You can also use special dental products for dry mouth, such as special mouthwashes. At home, make sure to drink plenty of water to help clean the mouth without the help of saliva.

If nothing seems to work, and you can’t stop breathing through your mouth at night, consider adding a humidifier to moisturize the air in the room to prevent your mouth from fully drying out. The moisture in the air will better promote your saliva glands to keep working.

Having a cold isn’t the end of the world, but it can affect many parts of your body, including your teeth, making you think you have major dental pain. Most complications are simply caused by mucus and inflammation, which make it hard to breathe through your nose and put pressure on sinuses. If you would like to learn more about oral health, contact us at Accent Dental.