Root Canal Therapy And Maxillary Sinusitis: What You Need To Know

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American dentists carry out more than 15 million root canal treatments every year. While most patients experience a positive outcome from this type of treatment, some people experience complications. Maxillary sinusitis is an unpleasant condition that causes painful facial symptoms. Find out about the causes and effects of this disease, and learn more about the link between root canal treatments and this type of infection.

About the maxillary sinuses

Sinuses are small, hollow holes found in the bones of your face that lighten the skull, make it easier to speak properly and moisturize your breathing passages. The maxillary sinuses sit on either side of your face, below the cheeks and above your upper teeth. They are the largest sinuses in your face.

How maxillary sinusitis occurs

Sinusitis is a relatively common infection. Mucus and fluid from the maxillary sinuses drain into your nose through small holes called ostia. During a cold, mucus will often block the ostia, making it difficult to effectively drain the maxillary sinus. An infection will then often develop in the sinus, leading to maxillary sinusitis.

Maxillary sinusitis commonly causes severe headaches. Other symptoms include a pounding pressure below the eyes, problems with your vision, chills and fever. Unfortunately, the maxillary sinus sits close to your teeth. As such, during sinusitis, many people experience pain in the upper teeth.

Acute maxillary sinusitis is generally easy to treat with antibacterial medicines. This condition will often develop after a cold or flu. Chronic maxillary sinusitis is harder to treat, as patients have recurring symptoms. With chronic maxillary sinusitis, polyps can form in the sinus lining, blocking the air passages. Patients will often need surgery to get rid of these polyps.

How root canal treatment can cause sinusitis

While dentists will take extreme care when carrying out any kind of dental work, the risk of maxillary sinusitis is high if you need treatment on your upper teeth. The shape and size of the maxillary sinus will vary from one person to another, but if the sinus is too close to the upper teeth, even relatively routine dental work can lead to a sinus infection.

Most root canal treatments will successfully fix a diseased tooth, but the infection around the root can sometimes spread to the maxillary sinus. What's more, a dentist may inadvertently force a foreign object into the maxillary sinus. For example, if you need root canal treatment for one of your maxillary molars, a root fracture can occur. This can quickly lead to an infection that will cause maxillary sinusitis.

Patients who suffer from chronic maxillary sinusitis are at higher risk. The ongoing symptoms of maxillary sinusitis may cause inflammation that increases the likelihood that dental treatment will lead to a new flare-up.

Cutting the risk of maxillary sinusitis

A dentist will take precautionary measures to limit the risk of sinusitis. For example, he or she will often use X-rays to check the space between the maxillary sinus and your upper teeth. With this information, the dentist can use precise measurements to cut the risk that a foreign object will penetrate the sinus.

It's important to tell your dentist if you have a history of sinusitis. You should also describe your symptoms, particularly if you have recently experienced a flare-up. Your dentist will sometimes recommend that you take antibacterial medication before a root canal treatment to lower the risk of sinusitis. You may even need to delay your treatment for a short period to help your body get rid of any lingering symptoms.

Maxillary sinusitis is an unpleasant condition that can lead to painful symptoms. Talk to your dentist about the risk of sinusitis from your root canal treatment and check out sites like for more info.