Tell us if this sounds familiar.
“My head hurts. No, wait, it’s my nose, like my face…no, it’s my teeth. No, it’s my head. I just have to make it stop!” Pain and pressure in your head are enough to put an end to the most productive days.
You bite the bullet, pick up the phone and call the doctor. He asks you about any allergies, decides maybe you have a basic sinus infection and prescribes an antibiotic. But still, you get no relief. You can tell it's all in your head, but where?
What do you do now?
Try the dentist.
While it may not make sense at first, your pain could be caused by something that your dentist or periodontist can care for. The Maxillary Sinus (the space above your upper jaw and below your eyes) can become irritated and at worst punctured because of a problem within your mouth.
Dr. Keyla Torres, a periodontist with Towson Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics, is working closely with otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctors and other physicians to help make sure the medical community is able to work together to treat these kinds of cases. Speaking at Grand Rounds at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Dr. Torres addressed when surgery or medications are needed.
“It’s (the pain) such a mystery to many patients when the allergy medicines don’t work or they just can’t get relief. CT technology (“Cat Scans”) is very beneficial in helping us make diagnoses that make a difference for these patients.”
Sinus pain of a dental nature can come from a variety of causes. Trauma, a tooth root that has moved out of its natural position (during an extraction for example), or a misplaced dental implant could be the source of the problem. These problems sometimes require the surgical attention of a periodontist. Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease and the management of such conditions.
“We are fortunate to have referral relationships with the specialists at GBMC that can provide well-rounded, patient centric treatment in many Maxillary Sinus cases,” adds Dr. James Kassolis, owner of Towson Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics. "The success patients experience with experts in both fields is outstanding."
The practice began a targeted campaign called the “Medical-Dental Collaborative” last summer to encourage the two disciplines to better understand the mouth-body health connection. The periodontal team works hard to identify many general health concerns while evaluating patients for treatment of dental conditions. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, upwards of eight major health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, can be impacted by the treatment of periodontal disease. Ten to 12 percent of Maxillary Sinus infections seen by ENT's are caused by dental issues.1 The "Medical-Dental Collaborative" is always seeking new connections.
The next time you have a headache that’s not really a headache; don’t let it become a pain in the neck. Think about your dentist and ENT before just calling the regular doctor. After all, it's all in your head.
1.MAXILLARY SINUS DISEASE OF ODONTOGENIC ORIGIN: PUSHKAR MERAH, OTOLARYNGOL CLIN N Am 37(2004) 347-364