Toothaches and the Cheeks

When you have a toothache, it can seem as though your whole mouth hurts. Indeed, toothaches can affect other parts of your mouth, including your cheeks. Symptoms that accompany a toothache can help your dentist determine the cause. Visit your dentist at the first sign of a toothache. There are treatments to help alleviate your pain.

A toothache can lead to facial pain in the cheeks. (Image: LittleBee80/iStock/Getty Images)


The mouth has several features that are all connected together. It contains the teeth, gums, tongue, palate, cheeks, lips and the floor of the mouth. Your teeth are held within your jawbones. Gums hold the teeth in place and create a protective barrier. Your tongue is attached to the bottom of your mouth and the palate refers to the roof of your mouth. Lips are attached to the gums and help to hold everything inside the mouth. The cheeks make up the sides of the mouth and reach to the front of the face to the lips.


Toothaches differ in severity. Some have a sharp, intermittent sensitivity or pain, typically brought on from cold or heat sensations. Chronic toothaches can be a result of damage that has occurred over time and can be more of a dull ache. An intense, throbbing pain may be a more serious tooth problem and should be looked at right away. If it hurts to eat, your tooth could be cracked or chipped.

Possible Causes

Toothaches along with soreness in the cheekbones may indicate temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJD. This disorder causes pain in the joint on each side of the head, in front of the ears, where the lower jawbone meets the skull. TMJD can cause pain or tenderness of the jaw, aching pain in and around the ears, facial pain or painful chewing. It can occur if the cartilage is damaged by arthritis or trauma, or from teeth grinding or clenching.

A sinus toothache is the result of a sinus infection. Sinuses are found within the cheeks and extra pressure in infected sinuses can create pain in the cheeks. The inflamed sinus cavity can also put pressure on the roots and nerves of your teeth, thus causing a sinus toothache.


TMJ disorders do not always require treatment, but severe cases may require surgery. Painkillers, tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxants may be used for alleviating pain and helping the facial muscles to relax. Other treatments may include corticosteroids, botulinum toxin or bite guards. Talk to your physician about the best options for you.

Treating a sinus toothache requires treating the sinus infection. Antihistamines, decongestants or antibiotics can help get rid of the infection; talk with your doctor or dentist for advice. Over-the-counter painkillers can ease the pain. Until the infection clears up, eating softer food can also help lessen the pain that comes with chewing.


Though not all toothaches can be prevented, regular brushing and flossing are necessary for a healthy mouth. Rinse your mouth with mouthwash on a regular basis to help rid the mouth of bacteria that can cause tooth decay. See your dentist twice a year to keep up with your dental health.

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