Twilight Toothache: Why You Have Tooth Pain At Night

Posted on: 11 October 2022

Is tooth pain giving you sleepless nights? A toothache is bad enough during the day, but when it strikes at night, your sleep cycle suffers. Although you can soothe the pain using a cold compress or some pain medication, you still need to determine the cause of your tooth pain. And if the pain persists for more than one night, a trip to your dentist is advised. 

Toothache occurs at night for several reasons.

Increased blood flow has revealed a dental problem

During the day, gravity works against the blood circulation to your head. But when you lie down at night and your heart and head are on an equal plane, the blood flow to your head is unimpeded by gravity. This increases the blood pressure in your head and mouth. Higher blood pressure means more pressure exerted on the sensitive areas inside your mouth. You may then notice dental issues.

The higher blood pressure in your head at night may cause pain if you suffer from dental issues such as:

  • A cracked or broken tooth
  • A cavity
  • A broken or loose filling
  • A dental abscess
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth sensitivity

And because the trigeminal nerve travels through the lower and upper jaw, the pain from these dental issues may be transferred. For instance, tooth pain in your lower jaw could actually be caused by a cavity in your upper jaw. This is why it is important to seek out a dentist if you experience dental pain at night. Your dentist will help you determine the true cause.

You have something stuck between your teeth

If you often snack or eat meals at night before you go to bed, then you may have food stuck between your teeth when you climb into bed. And hard foods like popcorn kernels and pieces of tough steak can cause pain. This pain becomes even more obvious when you are lying down and have fewer distractions.

If you do snack or eat at night, remove food from your teeth by flossing and brushing before you go to bed. Otherwise, the oral bacteria in your mouth will feast on the food debris, multiply, and produce acids that damage your tooth enamel.

You grind your teeth while sleeping

If you sometimes wake up in the night and your teeth hurt, this could be due to bruxism or nighttime tooth grinding. Nighttime tooth grinding occurs because of stress or because your jaw or teeth are misaligned. Bruxism damages your teeth and gums because you can't regulate the pressure you exert when grinding in your sleep.

If you suspect that you grind your teeth at night, see your dentist. They can create a custom mouth guard to protect your teeth from bruxism. Your dentist can also determine the cause of your bruxism and suggest possible treatments.

Contact your dentist to learn more about relieving tooth pain.