This is a break from my normal posts (if there is such a thing). I am posting this in case it is of help to someone out there if I share my experience.
Back in the summer, I started to notice a sharp, shooting pain in my teeth whenever I bent down to pick up the ball. Just that. Nothing else. Ah ha, those in the know will be saying, I know what that is.
Well, I didn’t. I put up with it and tried to ignore the thought that I had something very wrong with my teeth. I hoped it would get better. It didn’t. It got worse. Soon the toothache was constant and I was taking paracetamol every four hours. I had earache and jaw ache. The whole side of my face hurt and my teeth were super-sensitive.
So I did the sensible thing and made an appointment with my dentist. “Which tooth?” she asked. “I don’t know – all of them on that side at the top.” “Oh, so I have to guess do I?” she said and I felt like an idiot. I mean who doesn’t know which of their teeth hurts?
“It hurts most when I bend over forwards,” I said helpfully (it seemed relevant) and she looked exasperated as if that bit of information didn’t help at all.
She tapped all my teeth along the top on the left side. They all hurt. A lot. She did that thing where they spray something icy on your teeth. I nearly hit the roof. She took x rays. At last, I thought, she’ll find out what’s wrong.
“Hm, there’s nothing on your x rays.”
The nurse smiled kindly and said the problem is that the same nerve serves all the teeth so it can be difficult to find which one is causing the trouble.
To cut a long story short, she did a temporary filling in a small cavity she found and told me to come back in a fortnight. I wasn’t happy when I got home. I’d expected her to find something – anything – that was causing so much pain.
A few weeks later, after she’d replaced all my fillings on that upper side and put liners in to reduce sensitivity the pain settled – very slightly, so when I went back for my next appointment I was able to say, yes, I feel much better. I didn’t tell her I was still taking painkillers. I wasn’t taking so many, so assumed the teeth were settling down. “Good,” she said. “My next step was going to be root canal treatment.” Yikes!
Then it got bad again. I was in despair. I tried to wobble my teeth to relieve the pressure and considered raiding the toolbox for some pliers. I tried hot and cold compresses on my face, bags of ice, herbal remedies, clove oil, the TENS machine – I even tried ibuprofen although they give me indigestion (they didn’t help at all). The paracetamol took the edge off, but after about three hours I’d be watching the hands of the clock, desperately waiting for the time to be up so I could take more.
I woke four hours after going to bed and had to take more pills. I felt like banging my head against the wall.
I was grinding my teeth and waking myself up, causing more pain. The inside of my cheek ached. Some nights I'd be up at 3am, my night's sleep over.
Then at the beginning of December, I made a decision. I’d make an appointment and just tell her to pull the teeth out. That was my plan. I hit my teeth with a spoon trying to pinpoint the most painful one, but by then the bottom teeth were hurting too and I had pain all down my neck. The ringing in my ear that I’ve got used to over the years became loud and constant.
The hypochondriac in me was working overtime. If I wasn’t tossing and turning because of the pain, it was all the ridiculous thoughts whirling round in my head. I’ve had trouble on that side of my face before – when I was in my twenties – and I began to think it was something to do with the radiation treatment I had. Or maybe it was arthritis in my jaw. Once I started looking things up on the internet, I scared myself.
I couldn’t get in with my dentist and had to see one of the others. I sat in his chair and said, “It started off hurting in my tooth when I bent forwards. Now my whole face hurts – all the time.”
“That’s not toothache,” he said. “That is sinus pain. I’ll do an x ray to be sure.”
He did an x ray and showed it to me on his computer. All fine. Sinus, I thought, you mean I don’t need to have all my teeth pulled out to stop it? Really?
“You need antibiotics. I can prescribe them, but you should see your doctor as he’ll know the best one to prescribe.”
When I went to settle up, the receptionist said there was nothing to pay and asked if I had to make another appointment. I told her what he’d said. “Yes,” she said. “That’s very common.” I said I felt a fool for not going to the doctor first and she said, “Well you have to start with one or the other.”
So the next day I went to see my doctor. I told him the dentist had sent me! “I’ve got toothache,” I said. “It hurts a lot when I bend forward.”
“That’s not toothache,” he said. “That’s a sinus infection. How long have you had it?”
At least three months.
I picked my prescription up and went home in tears. The end was in sight.
Except the antibiotics didn’t work – not helped by the norovirus I got in the middle of the course. I couldn’t get in with my doctor and had to see a different one. I was beginning to think it wasn’t an infection at all and my inner hypochondriac reared her ugly head again.
The doctor took my temperature. “Over 100,” he said which was a surprise. He prescribed a different antibiotic and gave me a steroid nasal spray to use.
I’ve had sinus pain before, but it’s always been in my cheekbones and always after a cold. Never like this!
About three days into the antibiotics, I was down to four painkillers all day. By Christmas Eve which was the last day of them, I didn’t need any. It was bliss to sleep through the night.
Christmas day evening my face began to hurt - but not bad enough for painkillers. But I’ve caught a cold. I’m snuffly and stuffed up so it’s going to hurt isn’t it? If it gets worse, I'll be back to the doctor like a shot!
The reason I am writing this post is because there may be someone else out there with an unexplained toothache that cannot be pinpointed and pain when they lean forwards. Go and see your doctor!
I cannot believe how debilitating this sinus infection has been. Apart from the pain, my only symptom was intense fatigue – and weight loss (every cloud and all that). I even had to soak my cornflakes in soya milk until they were soft because eating anything remotely crunchy was so painful.
My husband, bless him, did all the Christmas food shopping (including buying stacks of paracetamol) because I have been in Completely Useless Mode for weeks. I’ve done very little writing apart from my blog posts; in fact this is probably the most I’ve written for ages.
So for anyone reading this that doubts that a sinus infection can cause toothache, earache, headache, face ache, jaw pain, neck ache and fatigue without any nasal symptoms – yes it can!
And just as an odd little aside, the second lot of antibiotics I was prescribed were the same as those Dusty is taking for the next month, Co-amoxiclav (Augmentin).
I really hope that this post will help someone!