Sleeping Soreness: Nighttime Tooth Pain Causes

sleeping woman

One of the last things you want to deal with when you’re trying to get your beauty rest is a toothache. Unfortunately, this throbbing pain, sharp sensation, or dull discomfort often comes about during the evening. Depending on its severity, a nighttime toothache could be a minor irritation or a major impediment to getting the sleep you need. In addition to interfering with your quality of life, bedtime dental discomfort could be a symptom of other oral health issues, which are likely to worsen without proper treatment. If you’ve ever suffered from a nighttime toothache or want to find out more about how we can help, read on to learn about the common causes of this condition.

What are the Symptoms?

You may be suffering from a toothache if you experience any of the following:

  • Soreness in a particular tooth or the surrounding tissue, which may be mild or severe, and could come in waves or remain relatively constant.
  • A foul taste or smell.
  • Increased sensitivity to hot, cold, or sugar.
  • Difficulty chewing.

Why are Toothaches Worse at Night?

There are a few reasons why your discomfort may come on or worsen after dark. These include:

  • Increased awareness. Amidst the hustle and bustle of work, school, and daily life, you simply may not pay as much attention to what your tooth is telling you. Only in the peace and quiet of the evening may you realize that you are experiencing discomfort.
  • Clenching during the day. Many people grind their teeth during the day as a response to stress or tension without even realizing it. After a full day of clenching, your teeth, gum tissue, and jaws may ache because they have been overexerted and misaligned.
  • Your dinner choices. Eating a particularly hot, cold, starchy, acidic, or sugary meal at night could exacerbate existing issues with your teeth, causing soreness.
  • Your resting or sleeping position. Your toothache may become more pronounced when you lie down because more blood rushes to your head. In addition, reclining can increase sinus pressure, which may also lead to toothache.

Common Causes

Identifying the root source of your nighttime dental issue is key to alleviating your symptoms. Common causes of bedtime toothache include:

  • TMJ disorder. If you suffer from bruxism (tooth grinding) or tighten your jaw throughout the day, you may damage, stretch, or misalign your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint. You may experience the fallout from this activity at night. In addition, some patients clench their teeth or hold their jaws in an improper position unconsciously during sleep, which could mean that you awaken in the middle of the night with a seemingly inexplicable toothache.
  • Cavities. One of the top offenders for any type of toothache is decay. If bacteria or acidic substances erode the outer layers of your tooth, its inner workings may become more tender and vulnerable, creating a sore sensation.
  • Root infection. Severe decay, oral injury, or another form of dental damage could allow bacteria to enter the root of your tooth. An infection in your tooth’s pulp (blood vessels, nerves, and other tissue) can cause severe toothache.
  • Periodontal disease. An infection in your gum tissue can cause sensitivity and swelling. If left untreated, it could also destabilize the surrounding teeth, potentially leading to tooth loss.
  • Oral trauma. If you have experienced a blow to the face, one or more of your teeth could have become fractured or chipped, which could cause a toothache. Small cracks may not pose a problem during the day, but could become uncomfortable at night due to changes in your blood pressure, position, and diet.

How We Can Help

If you suffer from nighttime toothache, Dr. Flanagan and our team can diagnose your condition and recommend an appropriate treatment. For example, we can place a filling to repair tooth decay, perform root canal therapy to remedy an infection, or provide periodontal treatment for gum disease. If we determine that TMJ disorder is the cause of your discomfort, Dr. Flanagan can fit you for a custom made oral appliance to hold your jaw in a more appropriate position during sleep or throughout the day, as needed.

Sleep Easily and Smile Beautifully

With our help, you don’t have to suffer from nighttime dental discomfort! To learn more about this condition or find out how we can help relieve your toothache, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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