How to Sleep With Extreme Tooth Pain? (3 Effective Remedies)

In this brief article we are going to learn about why tooth pain is worse during sleep and what to do in such a situation.

I have Extreme Tooth Pain & Can’t Sleep

Tooth pain is one of the worst experiences a person can have. There is nothing more painful than a tooth pain which does not lessen even after popping painkillers. And when this pain starts at night, when all you want to do is to unwind on your bed and have a good sleep, it can become a nightmare. 

It is common for people with a painful tooth to notice that their tooth pain becomes worse at night. Even if the tooth was painful the entire day, the moment you hit your bed, it becomes/ worse than before and a strong throbbing starts to happen. This can make it difficult for you to fall asleep and can also disrupt your sleep and wake you up if you were already sleeping, leaving you awake the entire night, tossing around in bed.

Tooth pain becoming worse is not just a coincidence. There is science behind it and it is because of how our body functions that makes tooth pain worse at night. But before getting into the detail of tooth pain keeping you up all night, let us learn a few facts about tooth pain.

What causes tooth pain?

Tooth pain is a multifaceted phenomenon. There is not one but many reasons for a tooth to start paining. There are several conditions that can cause tooth pain and each of them require a different approach for managing the pain.

The first reason for tooth pain is sensitivity. When a tooth becomes sensitive to cold, hot, sweet or sour foods and beverages, you can experience a sharp shooting pain in the tooth which may even travel to other teeth, ear on the same side or the forehead. A tooth becomes sensitive when it loses its outermost protective layer of enamel. Enamel covers the dentin which is sensitive in nature and it can erode due to many reasons like improper brushing, acidic beverages or age. Once the enamel is lost, the dentin becomes exposed, the tooth starts experiencing sensitivity which can be mild or very severe.

Another reason for tooth pain and the most common one is tooth decays or a cavity. When a tooth develops a cavity, it can expose the inner surfaces of the tooth. The pulp, which is the innermost part of a tooth, is extremely sensitive. When food lodges in a tooth with a cavity, the pressure of the food can lead to pain and discomfort. A decayed tooth will also hurt when it is exposed to hot, salty, sweet or cold things. However, once the food which is tuskc in the cavity is removed, the pain will subside.

In addition to this, another very common reason for severe tooth pain is a cavity which has reached the pulp. Once the pulp of a tooth gets infected, severe pain sets in. This pain will not go away without medication and the only permanent solution for it is getting dental treatment done. If this is left untreated, the infection in the pulp can become worse and an abscess can develop under the tooth. You may even have to lose your tooth if you delay your dental treatment in such a situation.

A tooth which has been injured can become painful too. Trauma to a tooth can manifest its symptoms immediately or sometimes it may take time for the symptoms to show. Trauma like a direct punch to the mouth, falling on the face or an accident are some of the common modes of tooth injuries. If you have suffered any such injury, it is important to get your teeth checked to rule out any internal injury to the teeth.

Impacted teeth are extremely painful too. Not just the impacted tooth, but the teeth, gums and bone adjacent to such a tooth can start paining too. The pain associated with an impacted tooth is extremely painful and it can easily radiate to the nearby areas of the mouth and face. Pain because of an impacted wisdom tooth is one such example. Read this article to know more about impacted wisdom teeth.

Why Is Tooth Pain So Painful?

Anyone who has gone through the tortureof experiencing tooth pain will definitely agree with the fact that tooth pain is one the worst kind of pain to experience. It can cause extreme discomfort and many times even painkillers do not have an effect on it.

Tooth is so severe because of the six of the pulp chamber of a tooth. The pulp chamber is a closed space which is totally sterile. When the pulp of a tooth gets infected, there is inflammation.The arterioles, nerve endings, venules and the various types of cells in the pulp get inflamed too. As the pulp chamber is a tight space, this inflammation gets contained in the small space and there is extreme pressure felt on the tooth. 

This can become even worse if there is an abscess beneath the tooth. Such a tooth will also become elevated in the mouth because the area under the root of the tooth is now inflamed too. As all the inflammation and pressure is contained within such a small tight space with no opening at all, the pain associated with this tooth becomes extremely severe. 

On the other hand, if there is an opening in such a tooth, the pressure gets relieved and the pus may also get released which lessens the pain. It is because of this reason that if a carious tooth fractures and the crown of the tooth breaks, sometimes the pain in the tooth lessens. Similarly, when a dentist performs root canal on such a tooth and opens the pulp chamber in the first appointment, the pain lessens within a couple of hours itself.

Why Is Tooth Pain Worse At Night?

As mentioned above, the reason that tooth pain becomes worse at night is because of how our body functions. When we lie down, our body is flat on the same level, unlike when we are standing. Due to the gravitational pull, there is not much pooling of blood in the upper part of the body in the daytime, as we are mostly standing or sitting up during the day.

However, when we lie down and our upper and lower body is at the same level, the blood flow increases in the head and neck region. The increase in blood flow to this region increases the pressure in the tooth too. As the tooth is already inflamed and tender, this increase in the blood flow and the subsequent increase in the pressure cause that tooth and the surrounding tissues to hurt even more.

This worsening of pain is irrespective of what position you lie down in. Whether you are lying down on your back or on your side or even on your stomach, it is not going to make a difference. The blood flow is anyhow going to increase in these positions and it will cause the tooth pain to become worse. Worsening to tooth pain at this time is one of the most awful experiences.

What To Do To Reduce Tooth Pain At Night?

While the only permanent solution for a tooth pain is to get dental treatment from a qualified dentist, there are some remedies that you can try when a tooth pain is stopping you from falling asleep.

The first thing to do is to rinse your mouth. This way any food debris that might be irritating the pulp of the tooth will get removed and there will be an immediate relieving of pressure. The next thing to do is to take a painkiller. Though self medicating is not advised, however, you can take a single dose of a painkiller that you have previously taken for any pain like tylenol. Wait for the medicine to start acting and your pain will lessen.

Sit up straight. This way all the blood that had previously rushed to the head and neck region will flow towards the lower body because of the gravitational pull and the blood in the region of the infected tooth will decrease too. This way the pressure in and around the tooth will also decrease and the tooth pain will lessen.

Salt water rinses will help too. Take some lukewarm water with some salt in it and rinse your mouth three to four times at a short interval. This acts as a great anti-inflammation solution and it will help with the tooth pain. You can also use clove oil, as it has some great antibacterial and pain killing properties.

However, these will only provide some temporary relief and your pain will come back. The best thing to do in such a situation is to book an appointment with your dentist the very next morning and get your tooth evaluated. Let your dentist decide the best treatment options for you and get your tooth pain treated for a permanent relief from tooth pain.

Frequently Asked Questions (Extreme Tooth Pain Can’t Sleep)

Should I go to the ER for unbearable tooth pain?

The best place for you to go for relief from tooth pain is your dentist’s office. However, if you do not have a dentist available, like at night, you can go to an ER. A dentist will not be available in the ER but you will get some medication to lessen your pain.

Can a bad tooth hurt other teeth?

Yes, a tooth with a long standing serious infection can make the nearby teeth hurt. Such an infection can become larger than before and it can spread, making the adjacent gums, bone and teeth hurt.

What is the best painkiller for tooth pain?

There are multiple painkillers that are prescribed by dentists for tooth pain depending upon the severity of your condition. One of the most common painkillers which is prescribed for tooth pain is Ibuprofen. However, this medicine is not suitable for everyone, especially a person who suffers from asthma as it can trigger an asthma attack.

Does throbbing mean tooth infection?

Yes, throbbing around or in a tooth is an indication of an infected or injured tooth. In case you feel that your tooth is throbbing, it is best to get it checked by a dentist so that the reasons for this throbbing can be treated properly well in time, before it becomes severe.

How do I know if my infection has spread to my jaw?

The most common symptoms of a tooth infection that has spread to the jaw are swelling in the jaw, fever, redness in the area, the area involved will be warm, difficulty in opening the mouth, swallowing or speaking. 


Tooth pain becomes severe at night as we lie down and blood flow increases towards the face region. This worsening of pain can be extremely problematic and can keep you awake all night. It is best to visit your dentist wellin time if you feel that you have a tooth that might need dental treatment to avoid such a problematic situation.


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