If you’ve ever experienced severe dental pains that distract your sleep, you really would not ever want to undergo such horrible torture again. And if you’ve not yet gone through this severe toothache at night, chances are it’ll affect you at some point in your life. This is particularly true if you don’t practice good oral hygiene; but, there are also other causative factors and you need to know them and what you should do in order to find relief.
Toothache At Night: Everything You Need To Know About Nighttime Tooth Pain
The causes of toothache at nightfall into several categories:
1. Tooth decay
Cavities arising from tooth decay are one of the most common causes of nighttime tooth pain. This problem usually affects people who don’t take good care of their teeth. So if you’ve not been brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, then this could be the cause of your toothache at night.
2. Periodontal Disease
This is an ongoing bacterial infection that affects the gums and one that can cause nighttime pain. It’s characterized by swelling, bleeding and reddening of gums that may also become tender. Pus may be present as also may be discharged from the gingival tissue.
Damage to the tooth can cause nighttime tooth pain. For example, if your tooth is cracked or broken or chipped due to trauma can lead to pain from toothache.
4. Nighttime pain after dental treatment
Similarly, a damaged or broken tooth filling, crown, implant or other dental restoration procedure that has gone wrong or has not been done properly can contribute to toothache at night.
5. Sinusitis, ear infection and similar conditions
Sinus or ear infection or any other condition that causes inflammation in and round the mouth and jaw can contribute to toothache at night. These infections usually put pressure on certain teeth and can cause pain at night.
6. Clenching of teeth or jaws
Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a condition characterized by involuntary clenching of jaws at night. It is caused by a variety of factors, such as stress, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety and unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol. When you find yourself unable to control tooth grinding or clenching at night, you’re susceptible to pain from toothache at night.
7. Pulp Irritation
Pulpitis, or inflammation of the dental pulp, is the main cause of severe pain that worsens at night. This condition is mainly caused by tooth decay, though trauma to the teeth and subsequent infection may result in pulpitis.
The severe dental pain resulting from pulpitis is also known as tooth nerve pain. It occurs as a sharp, throbbing pain at irregular periods at night. The pain may be present during the day, but becomes worse at night.
Pulpitis occurs when tooth decay spreads past the outer layers of the tooth, allowing bacteria to attack and inflame the pulp – which consists of nerves and blood vessels. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed, it swells and presses against the hard outer enamel of the teeth due to an immune response. This leads to pressure buildup within the root canal inside the tooth. The increased pressure within the tooth compresses the nerves and blood vessels; and this is what causes constant, severe throbbing pain. The pain becomes worse when you lie down at night because that’s when pressure buildup goes up inside the tooth.
If you have severe tooth pain that goes up when you lie down at night, chances are you have pulpitis. This condition can be classified as either reversible or irreversible; and the treatment can vary depending on these categorizations.
Treatment of Nighttime Tooth Pain
A toothache that lasts more than one or two days must be evaluated by a dentist. Your dentist should be able to diagnose and treat your nighttime tooth pain, which can range from mild to severe.
Treatment for this type of toothache typically involves getting rid of the cause. This can be simple as using dental products that can kill bacteria and help re-mineralize the outer tooth enamel. Other times, a complex procedure like root canal therapy, drilling or tooth extraction may be required in order to eliminate the pain.
If your tooth pain is due to conditions like tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth damage, flawed dental treatment, bruxism, sinusitis or other infection, then these conditions must first be addressed in order to get rid of the toothache.
Getting Rid Of Nighttime Tooth Pain Caused By Pulpitis
Pulpitis is probably the reason you have an unbearable toothache at night. As you might have noticed, your pain gets worse when you lie in bed trying to catch some sleep. Tucking yourself into a warm duvet only exacerbates the pain. (Anything warm or hot makes it hurt even more).
So how do you get rid of your nighttime pain from inflamed tooth nerve?
You must see a dentist. There’s no other option.
Failure to seek immediate treatment will likely make your condition progressively worse.
If your pulpitis is reversible, the pain can be addressed by simply getting rid of the irritant that’s causing inflammation. But if you have irreversible pulpitis (where a large part of – or the entire inner pulp – is already inflamed), your treatment choices will be limited to two options:
- either have tooth extraction,
- or else undergo root canal therapy to save the tooth.
Home Remedies for Nighttime Tooth Pain
In the meantime, if the severe, sharp pain hits in the middle of the night or you cannot get to a dentist quickly, these are some tricks that may help.
Firstly, sleeping with your head in an elevated position may help reduce the pain of toothache at night. You could also combine this pain relief technique with any of these remedies:
- Rinse gently with cold water
- If your pain is as a result of dental carries, try putting clove- oil-soaked cotton wool onto the cavity
- If you have swollen gums, try rinsing the affected area with hot salty water
- Over the counter pain medications may help, but not for a very bad toothache
- Use ice compres. Gently compress the affected tooth and jawline from outside the mouth (on the cheek).
- Floss to remove any trapped food on dental cavity
- Try desensitizing toothpaste
- Apply a solution of powdered myrrh
- Gargle hydrogen peroxide solution
- Use pepper or peppermint tea
It’s worth noting that many of these at-home treatments will provide only short-term relief and you may be forced to keep repeating the regimen after almost every hour. But it never hurts to try. Just remember to be careful when trying to use dental pain medications if you’re pregnant.
I can’t get to the dentist tonight, what should I do?
If it is the middle of the night, or too late to reach a dentist then there are some things you can do to temporarily ease the pain of your toothache.
Depending on what sort of toothache you are suffering from here are some helpful tips to try:
- Sleep with head in an elevated position – using pillows to prop your head up keep your head elevated so the blood isn’t causing extra pressure on the sensitive areas.
- Brush, floss and rinse your mouth gently with cold water – this can help remove some of the trapped food that might be causing pain
- Use clove oil soaked in a cotton ball and place over your painful tooth. This works well for tooth pain caused from cavities.
- Rinse your mouth with hot salty water – this is useful for sore or infected gums as the salty hot water will kill off the bacteria and ease the pain.
- Over the counter pain medication can work great to dull the pain until you can see a dentist. Ibuprofen is best but can alternate with paracetamol making sure you don’t overdo the dosage.
- For a swollen face and sore gums, use an ice compress on the outside of your face to dull the ache.
- If you suffer from teeth sensitivity – avoid cold or hot foods and use some desensitising toothpaste and mouthwash before bed
It’s worth noting that these are only some short term tips to temporarily avoid pain at night until you can get an appointment.None of these things will work in the long run, and they definitely won’t cure it. The longer you wait the worse it is likely to get.
When should I go to the dentist?
If a toothache lasts longer than 1 or 2 days then we recommend you seek a dentist as it is likely to only get worse.
A toothache is not a problem you can just ignore or self medicate yourself.
If you have any other helpful tips feel free to leave a comment below. And don’t forget to share this post so you can help other toothache sufferers too!