Otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors) frequently treat patients with sinus infections, and research has shown that between 10 and 12 percent of sinus infections are caused by dental problems, especially root canal lesions (abscesses).
The otolaryngology literature reports that the dental-related causes of maxillary sinusitis are often underdiagnosed, leading to persistent symptoms in patients and the possible failure of medical and surgical sinusitis treatment.
A recent retrospective study published in the Journal of Endodontics showed that of 243 patients scanned with 3D cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) for dental implants, sinusitis was 9.75 times more likely to be associated with teeth that showed root canal lesions. More than 80% of the lesions in the study sample were associated with sinus mucosal thickening. “A collaborative approach to the diagnosis and treatment of suspected dental maxillary sinusitis between dentists and otolaryngologists may be an effective patient-centered strategy,” the authors noted. Because of the study design, no causal relationship could be established, but expert opinion suggests that dental abscesses are responsible for sinusitis in some cases.
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in root canal treatment. Our practice, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Root Canal Specialists, is a pioneer in the use specialized, high-resolution 2D and 3D (CBCT) digital imaging as an aid in the accurate diagnosis of endodontic disease. We collaborate with otolaryngologists to assess dental health to determine if the cause of the maxillary sinusitis is of dental origin. Please consult your otolaryngologist if you suspect a dental cause for your sinusitis, and consider an endodontic evaluation.
I will discuss the evidence that supports the use of advanced technology such as cone-beam computed tomography, at the summer meeting of the College of Diplomates of the American Association of Endodontists. The lecture will focus on how 3D radiographic assessments have improved our understanding of the true nature of jaw infections associated with root canals.
Martin Levin | Your Dental Health Resource Magazine