How To Sleep With A Toothache

The pain that accompanies a toothache is troubling no matter when it strikes, but it can be especially rough when you’re trying to nod off and sleep. When we’re resting, our senses become more aware, which means we more acutely feel pain. The more severe the pain, the more distressing it feels, making sleep that much harder to achieve.

SpeepingProblemToothacheSo the question is: how can you fall asleep while experiencing a toothache? There is a wide array of methods focusing on posture, simple remedies, and over-the-counter medications that can bring relief and help you get to sleep without issue. But ultimately, you should only pursue any of these in conjunction with professional medical treatment from your dentist.

Of course, when a toothache is flaring up in the middle of the night, you won’t be able to drop by the neighborhood office and get checked out. That’s where these methods come in. Rather than looking at the treatments outlined below as de facto cures, consider them temporary relief until you get proper medical attention.

This article will be divided into two main sections. First, we’re going to outline some of the most common causes of toothaches. Once those are established, we’ll be diving deep into the most effective ways to find temporary relief from the pain so you can get that much-needed shut-eye.

What Causes Toothaches?

The answer to this question may seem obvious at first, but it’s important to know all the different factors that can be at play. Not only will understanding them help to prevent problems in the future, but you may learn more about your bodily habits as a result. The list covers the most commonly found causes.

Facial/Jaw Injury

Again, this one may seem obvious at first blush, but our pain awareness can be so focused on the initial point of injury resulting from facial trauma that it can mask other “minor” injuries resulting from the same incident. A tooth or gum line injury can easily go undetected when a fractured jaw has all of your attention. As the major damage begins to fade, the “smaller” wounds (like toothaches) can rise to the surface.

The interconnectivity of the musculature and nerves in the jaw means that the injury need not occur in close proximity of the teeth. Pain centralized in the hinges of your jaw, for example, can impact your teeth. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that the distance between two sources of pain means they can’t be related.

Damaged Fillings


If you’ve never had the misfortune of losing a filling, you might not realize that they can come out at all. Over time, wear and tear against the tooth or the filling itself can cause the underlying nerve to become exposed. You’ll know it if it happens, though: an exposed nerve is incredibly painful, made all the more frustrating by how much distress it causes despite being so small.

It should be noted that a filling doesn’t need to fall out entirely to expose a nerve. If the cavity that was filled worsens, it can expose even a slight area of nerves and set your mouth on fire. Any pressure or contact is enough to set it off.

Damaged fillings drive home the need to see a dentist for major tooth pain. It’s incredibly difficult for us to see the state of our fillings without getting a professional examination.

Tooth Decay


On the subject of fillings, tooth decay left untreated will also expose underlying nerves. Cavities are just one example, but anyone suffering from tooth decay should be able to notice the physical changes in their teeth. Correcting tooth decay can take multiple dental procedures as well as dietary changes—because of the money involved in the former and the effort required by the latter, many people sadly choose to ignore the problem.

Because tooth decay is the destruction of teeth, it’s much easier to detect than a damaged filling, and the sooner you recognize its signs, the faster you can address it. If caught early on, you may be able to prevent nerves from being exposed at all.



Whether it be in the gums or in a tooth itself, an infection couples the pain of inflamed nerves with the joy of fever, headache, dizziness, and other fun symptoms that can pull you in several directions at once. Of particular note is the dental abscess, when an infection results in pus inside of the tooth. Try not to think about what that looks like for too long: it certainly isn’t pretty.

However, infections that can wreak havoc on your teeth aren’t just limited to your mouth. Ear and sinus infections can spread if left untreated. The pain from infections tends to carry throughout the day as opposed to striking at different times throughout it.

Your “Bite” Habits

Most of us weren’t born with perfectly aligned teeth, nor do we always practice the best habits. We are imperfect creatures and thus we sometimes do pretty foolish things, like unknowingly wearing down our teeth. This is usually thought of as grinding, which can be a waking or sleeping habit, but how we bite can also cause damage, especially to those with misaligned teeth.

The good news is that issues like grinding and damaging bites can be addressed with therapy. In the case of severe misalignment, dental procedures may be the best way to address the problem. Either way, a dentist will need to confirm either issue.

Something Stuck in Your Teeth

Do you floss? Do you lie to your dentist about how much you floss? If you answered “yes” to either or both of these questions, you’re putting yourself at risk for one of the most awkward types of tooth pain: having something stuck between a tooth (or teeth) and your gums.

Food does breakdown over time, albeit slowly, so in some cases having a bit of a snack poking around your gum line isn’t so big of an issue. But it could result in long-term damage to either the gums, teeth or both, including bleeding and misalignment. Those were the consequences, wouldn’t it be easier to just pick up the damn floss once in a while?

Side effects that are associated with toothaches include, but are not limited to:

-Fever (usually related to infection)

-Trouble breathing, swallowing or talking

-Abnormal swelling around the painful area (common with abscesses and infections)

-Bleeding or blood in saliva

-Foul taste in the mouth


How To Sleep With a Toothache

Dulling the pain of a toothache so that you can sleep is an easy process and can be done with commonly found goods. In fact, you may have everything you need in your home already. When the pain is too much to bear, and you can’t count those sheep, give some of these methods a try.

Elevate Your Head

One of the things that makes the pain of a toothache feel even worse is good blood flow. When you’re lying down in bed, your circulation improves all over your body, but especially to the head. With the increased blood flow comes a stronger sensitivity to pain.


Keeping your head elevated is a simple way to reduce pressure on the afflicted tooth or teeth. You can try using a thicker pillow (or multiple pillows) to keep your head propped at an angle, or raise the head of your bed if it’s adjustable. A recliner works just as well and should be comfortable enough to help you fall asleep.

Over The Counter Pain Relievers

Your next go-to should be your favorite brand of pain reliever. It doesn’t need to have special qualities: whatever you use for the occasional aches and soreness will do. Of all the methods, this one is also the easiest to use during the day, regardless of where you are. Just slide the bottle in your bag, purse, or pocket and head out the door.

Sleep on an Ice Pack

The chill brought on by a well-frozen ice pack can bring rapid relief to even the most stubborn tooth pain. If the pain is on either side of your mouth, you can make do by placing the pack on your pillow and resting directly on top of it. If the source of the pain is at the front of your mouth, you’ll have a hard time utilizing an ice pack effectively, especially once you’re asleep.

Ice packs are much-beloved pain remedies because they can be used again and again without the need to purchase more. Their downside, though, is the speed at which they melt. Both your body temperature and the temperature of your room determine this, but ultimately the ice is likely to melt in only a few hours. It might be enough to get you sleeping through the night, but for prolonged relief, you might want to look elsewhere.

Rinse With Mouthwash Before Bed

There are a few different rinses recommended for toothaches (which we’ll get into shortly), but we’ll focus on using mouthwash first because it’s part of most people’s routine. If you’re using a mouthwash that contains alcohol, use it as you normally would but spend a little time swishing it around the affected area. The antiseptic qualities will help keep the area clean while also numbing the pain.

If you don’t use mouthwash or aren’t fond of alcohol, a salt solution can work just as well. Just a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of water used the same way as above will get you close to the same results. If you’re having difficulty making it past the taste of a salt rinse, you can try rinsing with ice water instead. It won’t help keep things clean, but the chill can quickly ease pain (though see the next entry for a word of caution on cold beverages).

Adjust Your Diet

If your pain is related to tooth decay in any form, sugary foods and drinks will not only worsen the state of decay but trigger pain as well. Things to avoid all day (not just before bed) include soda, energy drinks, ice cream, cakes, and candy. If you’re not sure, just read the label.

While sugar tends to get much of the focus when it comes to toothaches, acidic foods and drinks must also be considered. Many foods we think of as healthy, like fruits, contain citric acid that irritates tooth pain just as much sugar does.

Finally, drinks that are extremely hot or cold can irritate exposed nerves, and if such a drink causes you extreme pain, it’s likely indicative of a dental emergency.

A Word On Natural Remedies

As with all areas of medical treatment, some swear by simple home remedies to treat toothaches. These include chewing on certain vegetables, making a rinse with spices and herbs, or using specific oils as a solution. We won’t list them here because it’s difficult to vouch for how effective they are, but we mention them simply as an option.

That being said, if you want to try a home remedy, you should absolutely consult your doctor first. Since home remedies aren’t proven or medically recognized, they may have interactions with you or your medications that could make them dangerous. Proceed with tremendous caution.

Visit Your Dentist ASAP

These remedies are quick, simple, and quite appealing, and they may bring you pain relief for longer than you think. That said, these are merely aids to help you fall asleep at night despite your toothache and are only meant to be used temporarily. As tempting as it might be to rely on them night after night to avoid a bill from your dentist, the pain could be indicative of a deeper, more serious issue that needs to be addressed for the sake of your health.

If you find that one of these treatments helps you get a good night’s sleep, make sure you call your dentist’s office as soon as you can for a proper examination and diagnosis.

Other Useful Articles

Best Travel Pillows

Section 1: Introduction I am one of those people who can ignore the distractions in a car, train, or plane, and fall asleep in a few minutes. Even if you’re not this kind of person, you want to be as comfortable as possible when traveling long distances. Comfort can make or break a trip. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had the unbearable stiff neck or headache kick-in at the end of a trip. To avoid these aches and pains, we recommend finding a travel pillow that will ensure better sleep when away from home. We have researched various products on the market and rounded up a list of the best travel pillows.  Section 2: Value Section 2.1 Context of Use  Transportation modes have limited space which often limits our comfort.  Between the tight spaces and long travel hours, most of us end up feeling stressed when traveling. To reduce stress, we have to focus on comfort, as well as on avoiding head and neck injuries when looking for the best travel pillow. In my own experience, I often feel achy around my neck and back when getting off an airplane, especially on long, overseas flights. However, since I […]


9 Signs You May Have Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea stands as one of the most common sleep problems people suffer around the world. In the United States alone, over 20 million people experience it.  What’s really scary, though, is that most people living with sleep apnea don’t even realize it—over three-quarters of cases in the US go undiagnosed because people fail to recognize the signs. Scarier still is that it and similar sleeping disorders can serve to worsen your health in other areas. So what are the signs you might be living with sleep apnea? Before we can identify them, we need to understand what sleep apnea is. In a general sense, sleep apnea causes your breathing to stop and start while you’re sleeping. The medical community currently divides it into three distinct types: obstructive sleep apnea, which happens when the muscles in your throat relax too much;  central sleep apnea, when your brain misfires or briefly fails to send signals that help regulate breathing; and  complex sleep apnea syndrome, which is seen in patients suffering from the other two types of apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious concern that can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. Along with the risks outlined below, sleep apnea can […]


The Best Weighted Blankets

WEIGHTED BLANKETS If you are a restless sleeper, you will have a clear understanding of the struggles to falling asleep and staying asleep the entire night. Most restless sleepers try out different tactics that promise to make them fall asleep and stay asleep for the entire night, without much success. The choice of the blanket is something to consider when determining how easy it will be to fall asleep. People who have tried weighted blankets can attest that the type of blanket you choose will highly influence the likelihood of falling asleep as fast as possible. As their name suggests, weighted blankets are heavy with small pellets filled inside them. The pellets are well distributed, so you do not experience any pressure when you sleep. The best thing about weighted blankets is that they assist in relieving one’s anxiety, which makes it easier to fall asleep because your mind is quiet. These blankets have a calming effect so that even people who have insomnia can experience some level of peace during bedtime. Today, weighted blankets are known to give significant value to those who use them. With a weighted blanket, you would be able to stay warm and comfortable even […]


Choosing the Best Pillow for Neck Pain

The pillow you use helps determine your back and neck alignment. A good pillow means that you’ll experience a deeper, more restful sleep and wake up less during the night. But a bad pillow does a lot more than make it difficult to sleep. Besides tossing and turning, an uncomfortable pillow can exasperate shoulder and arm pain while worsening migraines and headaches, all by causing neck pain. If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms or a stiff, sore feeling in your neck and spine, odds are good that you’re using a pillow that’s not a good fit for you personally. How do you find a pillow that’s good for treating neck pain? While there’s no single pillow on the market that will work for everybody, two main factors need to be considered: the cervical curvature of your neck and the position you assume when you sleep. Overall you want your pillow to keep your head aligned with your shoulders while also supporting the structure of the neck. To this end, you’ll want to closely consider the shape, dimensions, and materials of any prospective pillow you buy. Look at How You Sleep What you need to keep your neck and spine […]

You Might Also Like...