Coping With a Toothache Overnight

Toothaches are no joke, especially when they cause you to wake up throughout the night or have trouble falling asleep. Developing a toothache at night or waking up with one in the middle of the night can be particularly difficult. For one, your dentist’s office is probably closed and if the toothache isn’t a medical emergency, going to an emergency care center isn’t a recommended option. Secondly, trying to get back to bed with a nagging tooth can be quite a feat.

If you’ve found yourself with a dreaded nighttime toothache, here’s what you should know.

When is a toothache an emergency situation?

Although most toothaches aren’t an emergency, you should know the signs of a dental problem that requires urgent care.

When a toothache feels unbearably painful or you’re also experiencing other symptoms such as a fever, facial swelling, and dizziness, you may have an infection. Abscesses are often the culprit and are a very serious medical problem. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of an infection, seek emergency medical care right away.

Caring for a Mild to Moderate Toothache During the Night

For typical toothaches, here are some ways you can get relief while you wait for your dentist’s office to open in the morning.

1. Thoroughly floss and brush your teeth.

Brushing and flossing are generally what you think of when preventing toothaches, but sometimes an additional cleaning can help ease tooth pain.

If you’ve just woken up with a toothache, head to the bathroom to floss and brush. This will remove bacteria and stuck food debris that can be contributing to your toothache.

2. Rinse with mouthwash or a saltwater solution.

After cleaning your teeth, rinse with your favorite mouthwash or make a warm saltwater solution. An alcohol-free mouthwash won’t harm your tooth and the cool, minty, fresh sensation can actually feel quite soothing.

You can also make a saltwater solution by mixing half a teaspoon of salt with warm water until dissolved. Swish with this and spit just like you would a mouthwash.

3. Take an OTC pain reliever according to directions.

OTC pain reliever is probably the first thing you reach for when a toothache strikes. Even though your tooth may be feeling quite bad, don’t be tempted to take too much. Follow the dosage directions on the bottle and be patient while it takes effect.

Additionally, do not apply crushed aspirin or any other medication to your painful tooth. This is an unsafe home remedy that causes further harm to your tooth and the surrounding gum tissue.

4. Create a warm compress with a teabag.

Warmth often feels wonderful on a sore tooth. For nighttime toothaches, brew yourself a warm cup of tea; chamomile or a bedtime tea is perfect. Not only can you sip on your sleepy beverage to help relax and soothe your tooth, but you can also take the warm tea bag and apply it to your tooth as a warm compress. Gently bite down and be careful to not tear the bag.

5. Apply topical toothache-relieving products.

Most stores have topical toothache gels that work effectively for mild toothaches. You might also find toothache mouth rinses and similar products. Always look for a product that has the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure it’s safe for use.

6. Elevate your head with some extra pillows.

When you do try to go back to sleep, a handy trick is to elevate your head on a couple of extra pillows. Keeping your head elevated will reduce pressure and help you feel some relief if your toothache is dull and nagging. It’s also a good idea to try to sleep on your back so you don’t further hurt the tender area.

What if your toothache is gone when you wake up?

Sometimes a terrible toothache is mysteriously gone by the morning or you wake up feeling significantly more comfortable. While not feeling pain is wonderful, don’t take this temporary relief from your toothache as a sign that your tooth is fine.

Remember, when a toothache happens it’s because some sort of damage is already present. It may be a loose filling or crown, a new cavity, or a crack or chip you can’t see or feel. The pain might disappear, but it will be back eventually.

For this reason, it’s really important to always contact your dentist the next morning, even if your toothache has seemingly vanished. The sooner your tooth is examined, the sooner your dentist can diagnose and treat the problem and the less time and money you’ll spend on treatment.

Dr. Cooley Bentz will help you get relief from your toothaches.

For urgent dental appointments due to severe toothaches, knocked-out adult teeth, and broken teeth, Dr. Cooley Bentz offers emergency dental care. A staff member is generally on-call after hours in case of emergency.

If your toothache doesn’t require emergency care and you’re able to make it through to the next business day, be sure to give the Cooley-Bentz Dental Associates team a call right away to schedule an appointment. Our office is conveniently located in East Norriton, PA, and we are always accepting new patients.