Does Having the Flu or a Cold Virus Make Your Teeth Hurt?

  • Why your teeth hurt when you have a cold, flu or sinus symptoms
  • Can a sore throat cause tooth pain?
  • Keep brushing even though you’re sick
  • Getting a flu shot helps to protect your oral health

Now that we’re knee-deep into winter, it seems as if more and more people around us are suffering from a cold or the flu. If you’re not careful, you too might start to get that telltale tickle in your throat, which can lead to body aches, throat pain, stuffy nose, sinusitis and bouts of coughing.

When you’re suffering from a cold or the flu, you might also find that you’re experiencing painful symptoms in your teeth. But before you despair over having a tooth issue on top of your other symptoms, consider that your toothache might just be a side effect of your illness.

Can a cold virus cause your teeth to hurt?

The short answer to this question is yes.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an issue with your oral health, especially if the pain isn’t limited to one tooth.

In fact, if you have a cold or flu and are experiencing pain in your upper teeth, especially toward the rear of your mouth, the pain might actually be a side effect of acute sinusitis.

Acute sinusitis tooth pain can be triggered by a virus or bacterial infection. Its symptoms include thick yellow or greenish mucous draining from the nose or down the throat, pain and pressure around your eyes, cheeks, and nose, and nasal congestion. You may experience pain in your upper rear teeth simply because of their close proximity to your infected sinuses.

Although most common colds are gone within 7 – 10 days, acute sinusitis can stick around for up to four weeks. If rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medicines aren’t helping, seeing your doctor for a prescription might be your best bet to relieve your symptoms, and eliminate the pain you’re feeling in your teeth.

Nasal congestion and your oral health

Congested nasal passages can also negatively affect your oral health.

When we have a stuffy nose, we tend to breathe through our mouth. This can cause our mouth to dry out, especially during periods of sleep, which can significantly reduce saliva flow.

Taking certain medications, such as decongestants, can also result in a dry mouth.

Unhindered saliva flow is essential to help keep our teeth and gums clean. When our mouths become excessively dry, bacteria can grow along our gum line, which could lead to a condition known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of a more serious dental condition known as periodontal disease. If left unchecked, periodontal disease can weaken the bone support for your teeth and possibly lead to tooth loss.

To help solve dry mouth, drink plenty of fluids, especially if you’re taking a nasal decongestant. Sucking on cough drops can also help encourage saliva flow, and running a humidifier in your home will keep the air moist, helping to prevent you from becoming dehydrated.

Keep Brushing and Flossing When You’re Sick

Getting out of bed to attend to your oral health might be the last thing you want to do when you’re sick. We can’t stress enough how important it is to keep brushing and flossing right through the lifespan of your illness.

That’s because neglecting your oral health can lead to plaque buildup, which puts you at risk for gingivitis and tooth decay.

Also, your recovery from your cold or flu can be delayed if your immune system is fighting bacterial growth in your mouth.

If you’re feeling too sick to brush or floss, try a soothing anti-bacterial mouth rinse to keep your mouth as clean as possible until you’re back on your feet and can resume your regular dental hygiene routine.

Can a sore throat cause tooth pain?

Although it might seem that a throat infection or sinuses could cause a toothache, chances are your sore throat is a toothache in disguise!

Because of where they’re placed in your jaw, an infected wisdom tooth can actually feel like a sore throat, especially if your lymph nodes are swollen in the same way they would be if you had a cold.

When the pain from your “sore throat” spreads to your wisdom teeth, and is accompanied by other symptoms such as swollen face or jaw, bad taste in your mouth, or pain while chewing, you should book an appointment with your dentist for immediate treatment.

Why and where to get the flu shot in Toronto

According to the Government of Ontario website, getting the flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself and others against the flu virus.

Flu shots are safe, free, and available from your health practitioner or at participating public health clinics and pharmacies in and outside Toronto. You don’t need to present your OHIP card when getting the flu shot at public health units or pharmacies.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health also recommends protecting yourself against unwanted germs and viruses by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, or using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Covering your mouth with a tissue or your upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze
  • Refraining from touching your face to prevent droplets from entering your body through your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Staying at home from work or school when you’re sick, and avoiding contact with children, seniors, or others who may potentially have weaker immune systems
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and shared items such as countertops, door handles, phones, and computer keyboards to prevent the transmission of germs

By getting the flu vaccine and practicing proper hygiene, we can significantly cut the risk of catching and spreading colds and the flu, and stop those teeth from hurting!

Complete Dental Services at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto

When you’re suffering from a cold or flu, get rest, drink plenty of fluids, and settle into Netflix or your favourite book. Don’t forget to take care of your teeth, and to maintain optimal oral health see your dentist for regular check-ups to stay on top of potential issues with your teeth and gums before they turn into something more severe.

If you or a loved one have any concerns about your teeth, gums, or overall oral health, or just want to come in for a checkup to maintain and protect your beautiful smile, give Yonge Eglinton Dental a call today at 416-932-2222 or visit us online to book an appointment. We’d love to see you!