Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Wake Up?

Mar 25, 2022 | Dental Health, General Dentistry

Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Wake Up?

Waking up in the morning is often stressful enough, but the day definitely gets off to a bad start when your teeth hurt in the morning. This could be especially frustrating if you went to bed feeling just fine only to wake up with unexplained pain in your teeth. You may wonder what you are doing in your sleep that could cause your teeth to feel weird after waking up.

The good news is the team at New Leaf Rohnert Park is here to help. Tooth pain after sleeping is more common than you may think, and there are many potential causes.

Key Takeaways

  • Tooth pain in the morning is common, caused by various factors like bruxism, sinus infections, gum disease, pregnancy hormones, sleep position, and more.
  • A dental exam can identify the cause of tooth pain.
  • Good oral hygiene, hydration, and avoiding acidic foods/mouthwash can prevent tooth pain.
  • Seek professional dental care if tooth pain persists or worsens.

Causes of tooth pain in the morning?

Waking up with new tooth pain is not uncommon. Figuring out what is causing this early morning tooth pain can be frustrating. Some causes may be easily identified with a routine dental exam. Others may be a little trickier to identify.

Here we will look at some common causes of morning tooth pain.


One of the most common causes of morning tooth pain is bruxism, or tooth grinding and clenching during your sleep. Chances are, you do not realize you do this. However, your dentist is likely to see signs of bruxism damage during a routine dental exam. When you grind your teeth, you produce extreme pressure on the teeth and wear down the dental enamel.

Sinus infection

Sinus infections are a common cause of tooth pain. Your sinuses are located just above your teeth. When you sleep, your sinuses can fill with fluids that create pressure. This pressure can, in turn, place pressure on your teeth, especially the upper back teeth. This pain will not be isolated to a single tooth but rather a general area around your teeth.

Gum disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, occurs when plaque and tartar build-up, irritating the gums and gradually causing them to pull away from the teeth. If you have severe gum disease, you may experience discomfort during the day, but as you relax at night, the intensity may increase during the night or in the morning when you wake up.


You don’t usually think about tooth pain when you think of pregnancy. However, the hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy can increase your risk of gum disease, which, as we pointed out above, can cause tooth pain.

Sleep position

Is your tooth pain focused on one specific area? Do you experience it every morning only to have it quickly disappear? It could be that there is nothing wrong with your teeth, but rather with the way you sleep. For example, suppose you sleep with your hand underneath your head. In that case, you may be placing pressure up against your teeth or jaw that results in an odd jaw placement throughout the night, contributing to the pain and discomfort you wake with.

Overuse of mouthwash

While mouthwash can be a beneficial part of a good oral hygiene routine, too much mouthwash use can harm your teeth and lead to tooth sensitivity. This sensitivity can cause morning tooth pain.

Trigeminal neuralgia (nerve damage)

The trigeminal nerve is a nerve that starts near the top of your ear, splitting into three branches that go toward the eye, the cheek, and the jaw on each side of your face. Damage to this nerve causes a pain known as trigeminal neuralgia. This pain typically only affects one side of the face and may feel like severe jabbing pain or spasms.


We all know that drinking water throughout the day is important for our health. But did you know it is also important for your teeth? Drinking water helps to wash away food residue and bacteria. It also helps reduce the effects of dry mouth, which can increase the risk of gum disease. If you wake up with dry mouth and tooth pain, increasing your water intake throughout the day may make a difference.

Stomach acid and frequent vomiting

Suppose you suffer from high stomach acid levels or have health conditions that cause frequent vomitings, such as gastroesophageal disease or even morning sickness from pregnancy. This can contribute to enamel erosion on your teeth, leading to tooth sensitivity and pain.

Acidic foods

Eating foods high in acids, such as soda and citrus foods, can eat away at your tooth enamel, leading to nerve damage and tooth sensitivity.

TMJ disorder

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the two joints on either side of your face that connect your lower jaw to the skull. These joints allow you to open your mouth and chew your food. Inflammation and irritation in these joints can cause TMJ disorder, a condition that can cause teeth, jaw, neck, ear, and facial pain.


Cavities are a common cause of tooth pain. When left untreated, cavities can cause achy, intense, or sharp pain that can come on at any time. An untreated cavity can cause enough pain to wake you up from a solid sleep if the nerves become exposed.

Impacted tooth

Impacted teeth, such as wisdom teeth, can cause tooth pain without even knowing there is a tooth there. If you wake up experiencing red, swollen, and painful gums just behind your molars, accompanied by dull, aching pain or sharp, intense pain, you may have an impacted wisdom tooth.

Tooth abscess

Having a decaying tooth that goes untreated can lead to bacterial infection within the tooth or gums. This can create a pocket of pus, known as an abscess. An abscess can cause intense, throbbing pain, and, in some cases, you will be able to see this pocket of puss near the base of the tooth along the gumline.


Treating and preventing morning tooth pain at home

While you can try and address your morning tooth pain at home, it is always advised to visit your dentist. This is important to rule out any potential tooth damage. For example, if enamel damage has occurred, you may need a filling. In cases of TMJ disorders or bruxism, your dentist can fit you for a mouthguard or splint to reduce potential damage. However, if you identify with some of the possible causes above, there are some things you can do to minimize morning tooth pain, including:

  • Consider taking a nasal decongestant before bed to address symptoms associated with a sinus condition.
  • Use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
  • Avoid eating foods high in sugar or acid content before bed.
  • Rinse with a warm saltwater rinse before bed.
  • Apply a cold compress to your face to reduce jaw pain associated with TMJ disorders.
  • Change your sleep position or add an additional pillow to provide more support.


Regular dental exams and cleanings can help reduce morning tooth pain.

Tooth pain is no fun, no matter what time it is. While it may not be a sign of tooth damage, the team at New Leaf Rohnert Park advises you to make an appointment with your dentist to rule out any potential damage. Regular dental exams and cleaning can help identify the problem to determine if you need treatment.

If you wake up with tooth pain, contact us online or call the office at (707) 607-8695 today to schedule an appointment.

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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Do you have a toothache that just won’t go away? Does seeing a dentist give you anxiety and feel uneasy? Are you looking for a dentist that puts your needs first?

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.

Schedule an appointment today and let us help you achieve good oral health and a beautiful smile.

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