Why Do I Have Toothache When I Lay Down?

May 25, 2021 | General Dentistry

Why Do I Have Toothache When I Lay Down?

An unpleasant pain in the teeth can indeed make your life miserable, disrupting every daily activity. But when it starts messing with a peaceful night’s sleep, the situation worsens. Toothache is a dire oral health issue among young adults in the US.

Do you ever worry about why your tooth hurts at night but not during the day? Well, toothache, as you lay down, can be caused by many things. Irreversible pulpitis is one of the major factors that stir up tooth pain, mostly at night. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association states that 12% of the surveyed patients reported pain solely due to teeth sensitivity. The severity or nature of the pain also depends on prolonged disregard of the persistent symptoms.

To make it easier for you, we will discuss the most common sources of typical nightly tooth pain along with a catalog of very beneficial home remedies.

Key Takeaways

  • Home remedies for oral pain: elevate head, oral pain medication, cold compresses, oral hygiene, avoid certain foods/drinks, warm salt rinse, medicated ointments, hydrogen peroxide rinse (caution).
  • Tooth grinding (bruxism) during sleep may cause tooth pain at night.
  • Consuming meals or snacks at night without proper oral hygiene can worsen toothache.
  • Tooth fractures, cavities, and abscesses can all lead to tooth pain, especially at night.
  • Increased blood flow when lying down, fewer distractions at night, sinus infections, and gum diseases can also cause toothache.


Causes of tooth pain when you lay down

1.  Teeth grinding (Bruxism)

If you wake up in the morning with a terrible pain in the jaws, teeth, or gums, it is probably a sign of unconscious teeth grinding during sleep. Stress and anxiety can often lead to bruxism. As it’s not under the control of a patient, a quick check-up is the wisest option.

2.  Meals at night

You can enjoy a dessert after dinner or a late-night snack all you want but don’t miss the essential oral hygiene regime before bed. Otherwise, these morsels will silently sit between your teeth, intensifying the toothache at night.

3.  Tooth fracture or cavity

Did you know the army of bacteria in the plaque deposit feeds on sugary substances and causes acid formation? This acid will damage the enamel, which will eventually prompt tooth decay and cavities. If left untreated, one small hole in a tooth can grow highly sensitive and painful.

4.  Abscess tooth

According to American Dental Association, a dental abscess is a pocket full of pus induced by the decaying pulp tissues due to bacterial infection. This condition can trigger pain or foul breath.

5.  Increased blood flow

You may have noticed that the agony of an existing toothache amplifies at night. The primary reason behind this is when you are lying down in a horizontal position, the blood flow towards the head increases, pressurizing the sensitive areas in your mouth.

6.  Fewer distractions at night

With no external distractions at night, your mind tends to fixate on the infected or the sore tooth. No wonder the pain seems to feel more acute when you are trying to sleep.

7.  Sinus infection

If you look into sinus anatomy, you will see the maxillary sinus cavities are situated closely above the upper molar and premolar teeth. So, inflammation or nasal congestion due to a sinus infection puts pressure on the nerves in this area, generating toothache.

8.  Gum disease

Mild to severe gum diseases, namely gingivitis or periodontitis, are other significant grounds of tooth sensitivity, throbbing pain, and swelling.

9.  Lost filling

A habit of bruxism or forceful chewing is a classic reason behind the displacement of dental restoration. A lost filling may expose the pulp cavity or make a way to decaying bacteria. Consequently, a toothache is evident.

Clove oil to relieve toothache.

Home remedies for toothache at night

Now, let’s talk about the immediate measures you may follow at home before a dental practitioner steps into the scenario. Remember, home remedies aren’t the final words. They have certain limitations. But you can give them a spin to lighten a terrible pain for the time being.

1.  Elevate the head when sleeping

Using a thick pillow or stacking up a couple of soft ones is a great idea to keep the position of your head elevated. It will reduce the strain of any excess blood flow at sleep time.

2.  Taking oral pain medication

For an instant calming effect, you can take the common OTC pain medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen, followed by a consultation with your pharmacist.

3.  Cold compress

An ice pack or cold compress before bed can go a long way in preventing any stinging sensation from swelling gums or tooth infection.

4.  Oral hygiene

Why don’t you kill the source of the pain at its root? Thorough and regular brushing and flossing is the easiest way to avoid sedimented food particles trapped between teeth.

5.  Avoid certain food or drinks before bed

Is it sensible to invite any catalyst that can trigger your cavities to ache even more at night? No, right? Try to steer clear of cold or acidic beverages or any hard food item before going to bed.

6.  Rinse your mouth with a warm salt solution

A warm salt water rinse has a natural healing property to treat inflammation, improve overall gum health and alleviate an infection.

7.  Medicated ointments

You may opt for medicated OTC gels to numb the affected area for temporary relief. Although the main ingredient of these ointments, benzocaine, is not precisely suitable for infants.

8.  Rinse mouth with hydrogen peroxide

Gargling and swishing with a diluted hydrogen peroxide mouthwash are highly potential to ease inflammation and periodontitis.

9.  Garlic

Garlic, as an antibacterial agent, eliminates bacteria growth in the mouth. You can try to chew garlic cloves or put crushed garlic on the aching tooth.

10. Cloves

To exploit the antibacterial property of cloves, simply dip a cotton ball or swab in clove oil and gently rest it upon the sore area.

11. Peppermint tea

Both peppermint tea and peppermint oil are rich in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Use cold brewed tea to swish or apply a tea bag to soothe the discomfort for a short span.



Hopefully, this article cleared all your doubts and queries about tooth pain at night. Fair warning, if it lingers for more than two days or intensifies in due course, see your dental practitioner right away. Proper diagnosis at an early stage can solve the problem with medical procedures like root canals or a new crown or filling.

To experience high-quality preventive dentistry coupled with superior technology and years of experience, visit New Leaf, your Rohnert Park dentist.

You may contact us to book an appointment regarding any oral health issue. We offer an array of treatment options, from complicated tooth extractions to routine exams.

Eddie Kuo, DDS

Eddie Kuo, DDS

Owner @ New Leaf Rohnert Park

Professional Degrees

University of California at Davis – BS in Biological Sciences with emphasis in Neurology, Physiology, Behaviors

University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, Doctorate of Dental Surgery

State University of New York at Buffalo – General Practice Residency at Erie County Medical Center

Front Office Staff On Phone Taking Appointment

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At New Leaf Rohnert Park, our team of dental professionals understands that a trip to the dentist is not on anyone’s top list of things to do. However, we know the importance of quality dental care and what it means to your smile. With high-quality, experienced staff and cutting-edge technology, our team works with you to create an individualized treatment plan that fits your budget and allows you to put your best smile forward.

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