4 Reasons Dental Pain Is Worse at Night

4 Reasons Dental Pain Is Worse at Night

Perhaps you felt a slight twinge earlier in the day, but it didn’t seem that bad. You looked at your schedule and thought, I would rather deal with this for a day or two than to try to squeeze in a dental appointment today. Now it’s 2 a.m., and you realize that you made a big mistake. You’re exhausted, and you can’t stop thinking about the pounding pain in your tooth.

Dentists hear it all the time. “The pain is way worse at night than during the day.” It is very common for pain to feel more severe at night and worry it may be a dental emergency. There are several reasons for this.

Blood flow to the head is increased when lying down.

Blood flow to the head is increased when lying down.When you lie down, the body increases blood flow to your head. If you have a cavity, cracked tooth, or other dental emergency, increased blood flow to the head means more swelling and inflammation. Of course, inflammation and swelling are the body’s way of fighting infection. However, these can also increase pain.

There’s nothing to distract you from the pain.

During the day, most people have many things going on. Spending time with family, addressing work issues, and taking care of the activities of daily life give people many things on which they can focus. It’s only when they lie quietly on a pillow at night and start to try to relax that the brain finally begins to register the severity of the dental pain that they are experiencing.

You may be grinding your teeth.

Some people clench their jaw and grind their teeth during the day because of unrelieved stress but may be unaware that they do it. Then at night, all the tension in the jaw and teeth is suddenly noticeable. Alternatively, people may grind their teeth at night while sleeping. They may wake halfway through the night with an aching jaw and sore teeth.

Late night snacks can contribute to nighttime dental pain.

If you get the munchies after bed time, you may head to the fridge for a snack. Then, needing to doze off quickly after eating, you likely neglect brushing and flossing before sliding between the sheets. The acids in the food you ate will sit in your mouth all night and eat away at the enamel of your teeth.

What to Do Temporarily

What to Do TemporarilyIf it’s the middle of the night and you can’t get comfortable, there are a few things that you can do to help ease your pain. First, take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. These medicines will not only ease your pain, but they will also reduce some of the swelling and inflammation that can make you uncomfortable.

You can also use an ice-pack on the painful side of your face. Remember to wrap the ice-pack in a towel to prevent frostbite and apply it for no more than ten minutes at a time.

You may not be able to get comfortable lying flat in bed. If this is true, try propping your head on a pile of pillows or sleeping in a recliner. Elevating the head may reduce the swelling and inflammation in your mouth.

If you experience dental pain after eating late at night, you may need to be more diligent about brushing and flossing. Even if you get up in the night to have a snack or a drink (other than water) take the time to brush before lying back down.

For those who suffer from tooth grinding, dental guards can help reduce dental pain. If you find that you clench your jaw all day because of day-to-day stress that you can’t avoid, you may need to learn other techniques to handle your stressors. Practices like meditation, exercise, and yoga have been proven to help people handle their problems in healthy ways.

Folk remedies for toothaches abound on the Internet, but know that packing foreign objects into your aching tooth may not help at all. Some of these “cures” may actually make your toothache worse.

Address the Issue Right Away

The best way to stop a toothache is to allow your dentist to address the underlying issue. Cavities, broken teeth, or damaged dental work will continue to keep you up at night until the problem is corrected.  The best way to avoid dental problems is to call the dentist first thing in the morning. All dentists have time for emergency appointments built into their schedules. Call early in the day to reserve a time slot and get your dental problems repaired.


If nighttime toothaches in Mesa keep you awake at night, give us a call. We can diagnose and treat your dental problems so that you sleep better at night.