Sinus problems, sinusitis


Sinusitis is a very common disease, affecting about 35 million people in the US every year. It affects the spaces in the skull bones, called paranasal sinuses, which are filled with air under healthy conditions. Inflammation or infection in the lining of the sinuses can make them blocked and filled with fluid, leading to sinusitis.

Colds and allergies can trigger acute sinusitis, which usually resolves on its own. Few health professionals know that the cause for chronic sinusitis can be in the mouth. The maxillary sinus is located just above the roots of the teeth in the upper jaw, thus, infection in this area (such as from gum disease, abscess and implant placement) can spread to the sinus. Another potential aggravator for sinusitis is a bad bite, which can affect breathing and the sinuses.

Most common symptoms of sinus problems: headaches, tenderness in the face, pressure, nasal congestion, runny nose, inflammation, fever.



The shape of the mouth, teeth and jaws can affect breathing. Narrow arches for instance are associated with narrow nasal cavities, making nose breathing harder. When nose breathing is not effective, mouth breathing helps increase the amount of oxygen inhaled. The shape of the sinuses follows the shape of the upper jaw; hence, a narrow arch is also associated with compressed sinuses, which is a risk factor for sinusitis.

Nasal breathing can filter potential allergens and air particles that can cause infection inside the nostrils. Since this is not the case with mouth breathing, it increases the risk for allergies, infections and sinusitis. In fact, mouth breathing leads to a variety of problems, including poor oral health, dehydration, poor sleep, fatigue, decreased general health and wellbeing.

In addition, narrow arches and other bite problems can result in a lack of space for the tongue, resulting in a more backwards position that end up blocking the airway. This can lead to inability to breathe properly and cause obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition where breathing is constantly interrupted during bedtime. In order to facilitate entrance of air through the mouth, the tongue gets into a lower position. Over time, this can cause the tongue to become more narrow, as well as the upper jaw and the nasal cavity, making nose breathing more challenging. This vicious cycle of mouth breathing can be detrimental for oral and general health and contribute to chronic sinus problems.



Apart from improving the appearance of your smile, orthodontic treatment can also improve your general health, since there is a direct relationship between jaws, teeth and airway.

A bad bite can influence different areas and conditions in the body, hence, correction of bite problems through orthodontic treatment can alleviate pain and other symptoms of chronic conditions, including sinus problems. Narrow arches can be expanded, teeth and jaws can achieve better alignment to create more space in the mouth, in the nasal cavity and in the sinuses, alleviating sinus problems.

If there are teeth that are too close to the sinus, they can be shifted down to improve sinus conditions.

People tend to think that orthodontics is only for teenagers, but this is not the case. The option to correct teeth through clear aligner therapy (such as Invisalign) is well suited for adults, since it does not affect everyday life. Using a computer software, custom-made plastic trays are 3D printed and each set is used for about 3 weeks, after which it is replaced by a new set. Thus, teeth are gently brought into better alignment.

If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, ask your dentist about possible dental causes and get your bite checked.