Can a Dentist Puncture My Sinus?

The sinus cavity is located in your face and head. It is composed of air pockets, and some are in close proximity to your jaw. When a dentist completes any type of oral surgery, he must take care that the tools he uses do not disturb the sinuses. This can ultimately cause damage to other areas of the face such as the nasal passages. Unfortunately, there are cases in which dentists mistakenly puncture the sinuses.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Sinus Facts

The outsides of the sinuses are composed of tissues and mucous. Each person has eight sinuses that are located behind the nasal cavity, on the sides of the nose, in between the eyes and inside the forehead. Sinuses help keep the nose moist and prevent a heavy feeling in the head. Sinuses also help regulate your tone of voice. Damage to the sinuses can cause a fluctuation in mucous production. When sinuses are exposed from a puncture, debris and excess air can damage your eyes, nose and even your brain.

Surgical Errors

Sinuses can be punctured during oral surgery, such as a root canal or a tooth extraction. In these instances, the sinuses are often directly exposed and a dentist must use great care when prodding the mouth with tools. For example, reported in 2007 that a woman undergoing a molar extraction had a sinus punctured during the procedure by the dentist’s drill. A piece of her broken molar went through the sinus and could have damaged her eye if she had sneezed.

Sinus Lifts

A sinus lift is a surgical procedure that adds height to the upper jaw. A sinus lift can be beneficial if your sinuses are so close to the jaw line that they cause pain and discomfort. Bone is added directly to the jaw during a lift. Since the sinuses are in such close proximity to the jaw bone, there is a risk of sinus puncture during the procedure. This can cause a delay in the procedure and even an infection.


It is vital that you evaluate a dentist’s credentials prior to having any work done on your teeth. Whether you need to have a root canal, a sinus lift or a tooth extraction, check the dentist’s experience first. If a lack of experience makes you feel uneasy, ask your friends and colleagues for a recommendation. The likelihood of a punctured sinus cavity is slim. However, mistakes do occur. If a dentist punctures your sinuses, do not sign any other consent or release forms he might give you. After the procedure, he will likely stitch the sinus membranes and offer to perform work at a later date. If your dentist is unwilling to take responsibility for the situation, you might consider seeking legal counsel.