Having extreme tooth pain can completely disrupt your quality of life. Between not being able to eat or drink comfortably, to the dreadful tossing and turning at night when you can’t sleep, it can quickly become a nightmare. To help you get through the night, we’ll cover remedies like pain relief medication, elevation tactics, and even things to eat with a toothache, that will help reduce the nighttime pain you experience, so that you can get some much-needed rest. Before we get to our remedy list though, let’s walk through what might be causing your toothache, and the reasons behind why they’re worse at night.
The Culprits Behind The Agonizing Toothache
If you’re experiencing extreme tooth pain, and can’t sleep at night, you’re going to want to figure out why it’s happening so that you can (a) find relief, and (b) have it properly addressed by one of our dentists. Underlying dental issues that can cause agonizing toothaches include:
- Tooth Decay/Cavities: If the enamel of your tooth starts to wear away, due to poor dental hygiene and/or lack of regular dental visits, then holes in your teeth can form resulting in mild to severe pain. You can also experience extreme sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and can develop infections, too.
- Sinus Infections: Extreme tooth pain can also be due to sinus infections, as they cause swelling of the sinuses which can press on the nerves in and around your teeth, resulting in excruciating pain.
- Periodontal Disease: Your toothache can also be caused by periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease. This is when there’s a buildup of plaque in your gum line that leads to red, irritated and inflamed gums.
- Pulpitis: When the pulp of your tooth becomes inflamed, swollen, and infected, you can experience quite a bit of pressure and pain.
- Dental Abscesses: A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in your gums or the roots of your teeth due to an infection. Extreme tooth pain caused by dental abscesses is usually very severe and should be addressed by one of our dentists immediately.
Bruxism: If you unconsciously grind your teeth at night, this can cause extreme pain in the jaw, head, and ears. It may also cause extreme tooth pain as the teeth can become cracked and damaged.
You can also experience extreme tooth pain if you lose a filling, have a wisdom tooth coming in, or have tough food stuck between your teeth or lodged within your gums.
Why Is My Toothache Worse At Night?
Can’t sleep because of extreme tooth pain at night? You’re not imagining it - pain from toothaches at night can be a lot worse, and there are a few reasons for this.
- When we lie down at night, there is nothing to distract us from the pain. We may be able to ignore it or take our minds off of the pain during the day while engaging in activities such as work or conversation, but these distractions are not available at night. This can make the pain even more intense than it already is.
- Another reason why toothaches are worse at night has to do with teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Bruxism occurs unconsciously and occurs at night when you have less control over your jaw and mouth muscles. The action of grinding or clenching can irritate already sore gums and teeth, causing additional pain.
- When you lie down, blood flow to the head is naturally increased. This can make the throbbing of the pain more noticeable.
9 Toothache Remedies To Help You Sleep Better
Now that you know what could be causing your toothache, and why it feels worse at night, let’s get into how to alleviate the pain you’re experiencing. In this list, you’ll find remedies ranging from pain medications and oral rinses, to temperature and elevation options, to things to eat with a toothache that help relieve pain.
- Use OTC Pain Medication. If it’s the middle of the night, and you’re struggling with the unbearable pain and want a relatively quick and simple solution, head to your medicine cabinet and grab some over-the-counter pain medication. Both acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil) will be effective at reducing mild-moderate pain from a toothache. These help by reducing inflammation within and round the tooth, and may provide temporary relief from the pain you feel.
- Apply Cold To The Affected Side. If you have a cold pack in the freezer or even ice cubes, you can use it to numb the area around the toothache. The reason a cold compress works is it reduces swelling and inflammation, thereby easing the pain. You’ll want to apply the cold press for 10-20 minutes, every few hours in the evening before bed, so that the area is numb and less painful when you go to fall asleep.
- Grab An Extra Pillow For Elevation. When you lay down, blood rushes upwards towards your head, amplifying the throbbing that you feel from your toothache. A quick way to prevent this is by grabbing an extra pillow (or two!) and elevating your head up a bit to relieve the pain.
- Use A Hot Salt Water Rinse. Ever been recommended to rinse with saltwater after a dentist’s appointment? It helps reduce inflammation in the mouth, fights against bacteria, and can reduce how likely it is that an infection will occur. If you have extreme tooth pain and can’t sleep, using a hot salt water rinse may reduce the pain enough for you to get to sleep. It will also remove any food particles stuck in your mouth, which can help prevent you from developing an infection or making an existing one worse.
- Have Periodontitis? Use Hydrogen Peroxide. If you’ve been diagnosed with periodontitis by one of our dentists, it’s likely you’ve been given a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash. This helps reduce the amount of plaque you develop, and can reduce symptoms of periodontitis like bleeding gums, soreness, and loose teeth. If you have some of this in your medicine cabinet, use it to address the extreme tooth pain you feel - swish it - don’t swallow it.
- Brew Peppermint Tea & Swish. The active ingredient in peppermint is menthol, which has a mild numbing effect when applied to sensitive areas like your teeth and gums. If you have peppermint tea sitting in your cupboards, boil some before bed and swish it around to temporarily relieve pain.
- Chew On Garlic. If you’re looking for things to eat with a toothache, chewing on a garlic clove may help kill off any bacteria in your mouth that’s contributing to your tooth pain. If you don’t want to chew on it, you can also just place it near the affected tooth, but be warned; garlic has a strong taste.
- Use Clove Oil or Make a Clove Paste. Another food-related option you can try is by using clove oil or making a clove paste by soaking cloves and grinding them up in water. The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, which acts like a numbing agent and can reduce tooth pain. If you go the paste route, you can apply the paste directly to the affected tooth or place it into a tea bag for easier application. As with the garlic mentioned above, you can also chew or let the clove sit near the toothache to get similar results.
- Consider Numbing Gels/Ointments. Try using an over-the-counter topical analgesic gel such as Orajel or Anbesol, which can provide temporary relief from discomfort associated with a toothache when applied directly to the affected area of your mouth or gums before bedtime.
If you're dealing with extreme tooth pain and can't sleep at night due to a toothache, contact us here at Family, Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry today! Our experienced team of dentists and oral surgeons can diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your discomfort, quickly and effectively. Don’t wait until the problem becomes unbearable at night, give us a call at (813) 684-7888 or contact our Brandon, FL office using our online form, here.