A stuffy nose and sore throat that accompany a cold or flu are bad enough. Toss in tooth pain and it’s enough to make you want to stay in bed forever. But what’s the connection between the two? And what can you do to alleviate the oral ache?
The root of your pain
Your nose is lined with mucus that traps nasty pathogens before they get into the other parts of your body and cause an upper respiratory infection, which is the preamble to a cold or flu.
Should a pathogen or two (or a billion) get through, the immune system kicks into action, deploying T cells and B cells to seek out and destroy the pathogens. At the same time, small proteins called cytokines instruct cells in the nose to generate more mucus in order to clear the cell lining of other potentially harmful bacteria or viruses. When this happens, your mucus lining swells and your sinus cavity fills with excess fluid.
Thing is, the roots of your upper premolars and molars, and the nerves that supply them with blood and sensation sit close to your nasal cavity, which is why teeth feel sensitive, elongated and achy.
How to manage tooth pain from a cold or flu
• Eat soft foods and avoid super hot or super cold items.
• Drink more water to keep the fluids in your body flowing, which will alle-viate pressure.
• Be hyper diligent with brushing and flossing, even if it’s uncomfortable. Many people feel that toothpaste just gives their mouths more of a pasty feel when mixed with the excess mucus. But push through it because the healthier your teeth are, the healthier your whole body will be.
• Try to avoid any running. The bouncing up and down of your head shakes the mucus and causes acute pain.
• Take a decongestant if possible
If this discomfort continues after you feel better, one of two things are going on: you have a lingering sinus infection, in which case you should see your doctor, or there may be something wrong with your teeth, in which case you should make an appointment to see your dentist.
May you get through cold and flu season unscathed.