Nighttime tooth pain can be caused by a number of factors, not all necessarily related to a problem with your tooth. When you experience this pain, knowing its causes and when to seek help can help you find relief.
Tooth pain experienced at night can be your body’s way of telling you you have a tooth problem or injury. If you notice this condition following dinner, the increased sensitivity can indicate an abscessed or decayed tooth, meaning bacteria are present in the tooth causing pain. These conditions can be especially exacerbated by hot or cold temperatures you experience while eating dinner. People with particularly high-stress or high-tension jobs also may experience greater tooth pain at night because their jaws have been clenched or tightened during the day and the pain builds at night, according to MedlinePlus.
Also known as bruxism, tooth grinding occurs when you clench your jaw at night. In adults, stress typically is the cause of tooth grinding, according to “Symptoms, Their Causes and Cures.” While you grind or clench your teeth during the day, you are less able to control tooth grinding while you sleep. This can lead to tooth and jaw pain.
Tooth Grinding Treatment
If you experience nighttime tooth pain related to teeth grinding, your physician may recommend wearing a protective mouthguard that helps to absorb some of the shock and pressure that occurs with teeth grinding, according to “Symptoms, Their Causes & Cures.” These can be fitted at your dentist’s office or purchased over the counter at a drugstore or discount superstore. Failure to treat tooth grinding can lead to wearing away of the tooth’s surface, which can result in bite disorders, headaches, neck and shoulder pain and ringing in the ears. Reduce stress levels through engaging in physical activity, getting plenty of sleep at night and practicing other relaxation techniques.
If you experience tooth pain at night and don't require emergency assistance, there are some home care measures you can utilize to reduce pain. Examples including taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, according to All Day All Night Dental, an emergency dental care resource. You also can relieve pain through icing the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time or by applying a cotton swab dipped in clove oil to the affected area experiencing pain. The clove oil acts as a numbing cream.
Even if you utilize pain management techniques to mask nighttime tooth pain, it's unwise to ignore the pain and refrain from seeking treatment. Because the pain can be due to abscess or infection, these conditions should be treated because they will likely get progressively worse, according to MedlinePlus. Sometimes tooth pain is unrelated to tooth problems and can indicate conditions such as sinusitis or even a heart attack. If your pain is complicated by fever, earache or pain with movement, these are further indications you should seek medical treatment.