t’s never fun to get a toothache, but especially not at the end of a long day, when all you want to do is relax, unwind, and get some shut-eye. Unfortunately, evening toothaches are not an uncommon occurrence. There are a variety of factors that can create or worsen oral soreness during the night. If you aren’t experiencing discomfort during the day, you might also be tempted to just get through the night and forget about it. However, especially if your toothache happens repeatedly throughout night and isn’t going away, it’s important that you seek professional dental assistance.
Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston dental team are committed to helping you handle any and all oral health issues. In the following blog, we explain a few common reasons your teeth might only hurt at night, and what you can do to remedy this.
The Nightly Grind
Your teeth may hurt at night because you clench your jaw and press them up against each other while you sleep. This condition, called bruxism, is actually quite common. Web MD explains: “Most people probably grind their teeth from time to time…Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth.” If you wake up in the night with a “dull constant headache or sore jaw,” bruxism may be the source of your discomfort.
A 2010 dental journal article entitled “Bruxism: A Literature Review” points out that nighttime grinding even merits its own medical terminology: “Bruxism during sleep… is termed as ‘Sleep Bruxism’ (SB). SB is an oromandibular behavior that is defined as a stereotyped movement disorder occurring during sleep and characterized by tooth grinding and/or clenching. Sleep bruxism was recently classified as sleep related movement disorder according to the recent classification of Sleep Disorders.” If your teeth hurt at night, it could be due to SB. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately “8 percent of adults grind their teeth at night and a study shows that more than a third of parents report symptoms of bruxism in their children.” If you, or your little one, suffers from an evening toothache, SB could very well be the source of it.
You may also clench your teeth throughout the day (a condition known as “Awake Bruxism”) without realizing it and only experience the soreness when you return home at night and pay more attention to your teeth.
Dr. Flanagan will help determine if grinding is the cause and recommend an appropriate treatment, such as a night guard to protect your teeth from gnashing against each other.
When you get home after a busy day, all you may want to do is recline on the couch or get into bed. If you have the beginnings of a cavity, a small fracture, or another relatively asymptomatic problem, changing your bodily position could actually exacerbate your discomfort to the point that you begin to notice it. My Tooth explains: “Toothache can worsen at night because when you lay down horizontally…the blood rushes more rapidly to your head…exerting more pressure on the sensitive tooth.” Similarly, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom notes that toothache “can be worse at night, particularly when you’re lying down” and the Scottish National Health Service points out that “pain that’s worse when lying down, which may disturb your sleep” is a common symptom “of an abscess [swollen area filled with fluid] in your tooth or gum.”
This is why it’s especially important to see Dr. Flanagan if you experience toothache at night. If you fail to treat the decay, fracture, or other issue causing toothache when your blood pressure changes, it will most likely worsen, cause further discomfort, and become more difficult to restore.
If you tend to munch at night, your toothache could be coming from what you’re eating. Sugary, acidic, hot, or cold foods could make your teeth sensitive and sore, particularly if they are already to some degree damaged. For example, if your gums are infected, food debris can become stuck in the pockets where the diseased tissue forms. In addition, regardless of existing conditions, some snacks, such as citrus, candy, and carbonated beverages, wear down your enamel on contact.
Furthermore, if you’ve rolled out of bed to grab a late-night treat, chances are, you’ve already brushed your teeth. If you eat a snack, especially if it is at all starchy, sugary, or acidic, you need to brush your teeth again before you climb back into bed. Otherwise, you’ll sleep all night with debris coating your teeth, forming plaque and attracting decay-causing bacteria. Taking another two minutes to clean your teeth could save you a night’s worth of toothache, as well as the expense, hassle, and discomfort of a cavity.
At your next biannual dental exam and cleaning appointment, Dr. Flanagan can go over your nighttime nutritional and oral hygiene routines. This just might reveal the source of your soreness so you can adjust your habits and treat your teeth properly.
Your teeth may appear to hurt only at night simply because, when you get home from your daily activities, you slow down, take a breath, and pay more attention to them. My Tooth describes this phenomenon: “[you] may experience mild toothache during the day, but be so busy doing daily activities and work that you forget about the toothache. In contrast, during the night, when you’re relaxed and…not concentrated on other work, your toothache can be felt more intensely.” We can help you find the underlying source of your toothache so you can feel comfortable regardless of your distractions.
What Our Houston Dental Team Recommends
You’ve probably suffered through a nighttime toothache at least once. According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 22 and 28 percent of adults aged 18-64 years old dealt with “toothache” or “sensitive teeth” sometime in the last six months. Of course, if you’re struggling with soreness in the evening, your local dentist’s office has probably closed for the day. So what are you to do? Dr. Flanagan and our Houston team suggest that you:
· Call us the following morning and schedule an appointment. Even if your teeth feel better in the morning and throughout the day, your nighttime toothache could be a serious (and repeating) symptom of an oral health issue. At this visit, Dr. Flanagan can determine what sort of treatment your toothache requires (such as a tooth-colored filling for a cavity) and perform it so you don’t have to struggle through another night of discomfort.
· Try to avoid sleeping in a reclined position. Propping yourself up with pillows could improve your oral blood flow and diminish your discomfort.
· Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. This technique can provide temporary relief until you can come see Dr. Flanagan.
· Take an over-the-counter painkiller. WebMD notes: “dentists suggest acetaminophen for children. For adults, take your pick of over-the-counter medicines, like ibuprofen.”
· Ice your face, if your toothache has caused inflammation.
Ultimately, the most important thing to do is manage your symptoms throughout the night, so you can get some rest, and see a dental professional like Dr. Flanagan as soon as you can.
Do Your Teeth Hurt At Night?
Dr. Flanagan and our team are here to assist you. If you’re experiencing toothache, even if it is only at night, we urge you to come in so that we can examine your mouth. We can provide an accurate diagnosis, relieve your discomfort, and help you preserve a healthy smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Original Source: https://flanagansmiles.com/restorations/teeth-hurt-night/