Toothaches are a common affliction that can cause varying degrees of pain, ranging from a dull throb to a sharp, stabbing sensation. Dealing with toothache can be distressing, especially when it disrupts your sleep. But why does tooth pain seem to intensify at night?
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When Should I Go to the Dentist?
If you’re experiencing a toothache that lasts longer than a day or two, it’s best to seek professional dental care. Ignoring or self-medicating tooth pain can lead to further complications. Contact your dentist or schedule an appointment online if you’re suffering from tooth pain. Sharing your helpful tips in the comment section can also assist other individuals dealing with toothaches.
Why Does My Toothache Get Worse at Night?
Several factors contribute to toothaches worsening at night. For instance, you may have unknowingly aggravated your teeth after dinner or a late-night meal. If you haven’t brushed your teeth properly, food particles can get stuck between your teeth or gums, causing irritation.
Another reason for nighttime toothaches is the lack of distractions. During the day, with all the hustle and bustle, you may not have noticed the pain as acutely. Only when you sit down to relax in the evening do you become aware of how painful your teeth truly are.
Stress-induced teeth grinding can also lead to nocturnal toothaches. Grinding your teeth throughout the day puts strain on your jaw, resulting in pain at night. If you suspect teeth grinding as the cause, check out our article on how stress relief might prevent temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
However, the primary reason for worsening toothaches at night is the change in blood flow when you lie down. Horizontally, blood flows towards your head and face, increasing pressure on the sensitive areas affected by the toothache. This can manifest as a throbbing sensation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Toothaches at Night?
Not all toothaches are the same, and they can stem from various causes. Understanding the cause is crucial in managing toothache pain. Here are some common types of toothaches:
Cavities, resulting from poor oral care or an unhealthy diet, are one of the most prevalent causes of toothaches. Decay leads to the formation of holes in your teeth, ranging from mild to sharp pain. Cavities can also cause tooth sensitivity.
Periodontal disease refers to the infection of the structures supporting your teeth, particularly your gums. When plaque bacteria accumulate due to inadequate oral hygiene, they infect the gums. This can cause swelling, tenderness, bleeding, erosion, and even pus formation.
A cracked, broken, or chipped tooth resulting from trauma can lead to mild to severe tooth pain. The severity of the pain depends on the extent of the damage. If the crack is invisible, symptoms may include pain while chewing or increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
Sinusitis, Ear Infection, etc.
Toothaches caused by sinus infections occur due to increased pressure above the roots of your molar teeth. This pressure affects dental nerve endings and causes soreness in your teeth, jaw, and face.
Tooth Nerve Pain (Pulpitis)
Severe tooth pain that worsens at night could be a sign of pulpitis. Pulpitis occurs when tooth decay and infection spread beyond the outer layers of the tooth, reaching the pulp. The infected pulp becomes inflamed, resulting in swelling and pressure buildup within the tooth’s root canal. This compression leads to throbbing and intense pain throughout the tooth. It is crucial to seek dental treatment promptly for pulpitis.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Reach the Dentist Tonight?
If it’s the middle of the night or too late to visit a dentist, there are some temporary measures you can take to alleviate toothache pain:
- Sleep with your head elevated using pillows to minimize blood pressure on the sensitive areas.
- Gently brush, floss, and rinse your mouth with cold water to remove trapped food causing pain.
- Apply clove oil-soaked cotton to the painful tooth. This remedy works well for toothaches caused by cavities.
- Rinse your mouth with hot salty water to kill bacteria and ease gum soreness and infection.
- Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen can help dull the pain until you can see a dentist. Avoid exceeding the recommended dosage.
- Use an ice compress on the outside of your face if you have swollen gums and aching.
- If you have teeth sensitivity, avoid extreme temperatures and use desensitizing toothpaste and mouthwash before bed.
While these tips can provide temporary relief for nighttime toothaches, they are not long-term solutions or cures. Delaying dental care can worsen the condition. It’s essential to book an appointment and seek professional treatment to address the root cause of your toothache.
Is the pain becoming unmanageable? Check out our recent post on dental emergencies, which provides guidance on what to do, who to call, and where to go.
Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are crucial in preventing toothaches and ensuring overall dental health.