Tooth hurts at night – What are the possible reasons

tooth hurts at night

Everyone has experience with toothache, that painful or soreness sensation around our tooth. The level of pain/soreness can be very different and it can sometimes make eating, drinking and sleeping difficult. This is quite a common problem and it will affect everyone, sooner or later. But if your tooth hurts at night and you feel a sudden and extreme pain, you need to be aware of the possible causes.

Why tooth hurts at night?

Nighttime tooth pain, which can be greater than during the day, can be caused by various reasons. Here are a few.

Bette blood flow

As you know, blood circulates all over our body, and even to and around out teeth. When we lie down on a pillow or flat surface, more blood will rush to our head. This bigger blood circulation can sometimes put additional pressure on your tooth. If your tooth hurts at night while you’re lying down and not when you stand or sit up, then this could be the reason.

Tooth hurts at night if you grind them

A lot of people these days grind their teeth while sleeping. There is no definitive answer to why we do this, although some experts say that is closely related to stress and anxiety. Regardless of the cause, while we grind our teeth, we are putting additional stress on our teeth, gums, jaw so we might end up experiencing pain. Furthermore, teeth grinding can wear off your tooth enamel, making your teeth weaker and more prone to cavities and other dental problems. So if you notice that your tooth hurts at night or you feel soreness in your teeth or jaw in the morning, it could be that you’re grinding your teeth. Purchase yourself a night splint or guard.

Meals late at night

The general rule is that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably when you wake up and before you go to sleep. If you had sugary food or drink at night, be sure that you don’t skin your “before bed” teeth brushing. This will help remove the plaque and excess bacteria from your teeth, keeping them cleaner during the night and lessen the risk for dental problems.

Tooth hurts in the morning

Sometimes your tooth hurts at night and sometimes you will notice that it hurts in the morning when you wake up. This “morning toothache” can be caused by several things:

Sinus infection – Infections lead to fluid accumulation which can put additional pressure on your tooth.

Cavities or tooth decay – If you have untreated cavities, they can damage your tooth pulp and irritate the nerve endings in your tooth.

Impacted tooth – If you notice swollen gums along with mild or severe toothache, it could be that you have a partially or fully impacted tooth. Contact your dentist and make sure that you do some X-Ray imaging to confirm (or rule out) this problem.

TMJ disorder – Irritation of the joints between your jaw bone and skull can also cause toothache.

Abscess – When a pocket of puss (or abscess) starts to form around your tooth it puts pressure on the tooth causing throbbing pain. The abscess needs to be treated in order to eliminate the pain.

Gum disease – This is caused by accumulated plaque in your gum line. When diagnosed, gum disease is usually in its moderate or severe stage. In the initial stage, gum disease never causes pain. So once you start feeling pain, it means that the disease has advanced enough and it needs to be treated.

As you can see, there can be many reasons why your tooth hurts at night and even during the day. If you notice pain (even if it’s mild), make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist so he/she could examine it and determine the cause and treatment plan.


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Dr. Nguyen
Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing high-quality dentistry using state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve improved oral health and the beautiful smile you deserve.

Dr. Nguyen has served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry and has many achievements such as: Invisalign Premier and Teen Provider, Pre-Fellow with Academy of General Dentistry, Graduate of Aesthetic Continuum, Engel Institute for Dental Implant Training, WaveOne Endodontic Training, HD President’s Club.

Dr. Nguyen enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, staying active in the gym, and trying out new restaurants.  When he isn’t at work, you can find him playing basketball, tennis, football, or hiking.

“I want to make you feel right at home, exceed your expectations, and provide an amazing experience!”