One of the most annoying aspects of having a toothache is if it is the type that increases in intensity or becomes more noticeable when you lie down. The important thing to keep in mind in this situation is to do what you can to relieve your toothache as well as getting an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Do not panic, as there is a lot that you can do to manage this problem.
What is the reason for this kind of toothache?
- Change in the position of your head from upright to horizontal: When you lie down, blood rushes to your head, which increases the internal pressure of the tooth, especially if you lie down on your side. The tooth has a blood supply as well as a nerve supply in its innermost part, the pulp, which makes it sensitive to pressure and pain.
- Removal of distractions at the end of the day when you lie down to sleep: Usually, you lie down at the end of the day to go to sleep. It is at this point of the day, when you try to fall asleep and do not have any task to focus on, that your awareness may pick up on your toothache. Throughout the day, you were distracted from the toothache by focusing on different things you were doing. Now you realize how much your tooth hurts.
- What you ate for dinner: It may be that the sugar or carbohydrate content of your dinner is irritating your teeth. Maybe you forgot to brush your teeth, or did not manage to brush your teeth properly, resulting in some food particles stuck between your teeth, which are causing your sensitive teeth to hurt.
- Tooth grinding throughout the day: It may be that you have the habit of grinding your teeth when you are anxious or stressed. The pain of tooth grinding may be felt as a headache or it may appear as a toothache. The build-up of stress and tooth grinding all day long manifests at the end of the day when you lie down and try to relax.
What are the possible dental problems that can cause this kind of toothache?
- Tooth decay: Bacterial attack on tooth structure causes breakdown of the tissues that make up the tooth. This leads to the development of a dental cavity in the tooth. Once the decay reaches the sensitive inner layer of the tooth, it results in a toothache.
- Cracked or fractured tooth: A physical trauma or a fall can cause a tooth to be chipped, broken or fractured. The pain that results from this can be due to the tooth becoming sensitive to hot, cold, sweet or pressure, or it may be that the crack has gone deep until it has reached the sensitive part of the tooth.
- Sinus toothache: In some cases, the sinuses become inflamed and swollen, and the resulting pressure on the underlying teeth causes the sensation of toothache.
- Advanced dental infection: Once the bacterial infection advances to the innermost living core of the tooth, which is called the pulp, it starts to spread in the pulp and cause necrosis. In the process of necrosis, gases are released which cause a build-up of pressure in the tooth which leads to toothache.
Home remedies you can do to manage the toothache until you can see your dentist
- Use an extra pillow or combination of pillows to elevate your head while you sleep: It is best to increase the elevation of your head in order to decrease the pressure within the tooth, which will help reduce the dental pain. Be careful and do not elevate your head to the extent that you stretch your neck too much. Find a good middle ground which is comfortable for your neck and reduces the posture-related increase in intensity of the toothache as well.
- Clean your teeth thoroughly: Even if you have just brushed, it can help if you go over your teeth again with the toothbrush, more carefully and slowly this time. You may also use dental floss to remove any particles of food that are stuck between your teeth, or to remove dental plaque from between the teeth. This will help remove the substances that promote bacterial action.
- Use clove oil: The procedure to use clove oil to relieve a toothache caused by dental decay is to soak a cotton ball in clove oil and place it over the tooth that hurts.
- Rinse your mouth with lukewarm salt water: You may take a glass of lukewarm water, mix a spoonful of table salt in it, and rinse your mouth with it. This will help dislodge any food particles that are stuck between your teeth as well as reducing bacterial action in your mouth.
- Use over the counter painkillers: You may use over the counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. Do not use them continuously to manage your toothache. They are only intended for short term use.
- Place a cold pack on your cheek: You may apply a cold pack to your face to reduce any swelling associated with the toothache. Alternatively, you may use ice chips by placing them in your mouth next to the painful tooth.
- Use toothpaste or mouthwash for sensitive teeth: These toothpastes and mouthwashes are intended to reduce the sensitivity of teeth to hot and cold foods as well as sweet taste. Avoid eating or drinking anything that is very hot or cold, instead choose foods that are closer to room temperature. Avoid sweet and sugary foods, as they can increase your toothache by causing a sensitivity reaction or increasing bacterial action on your teeth.
A note to remember
Make sure to get an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. In the case of a dental emergency such as extreme pain, look up walk-in emergency dental care in order to get your problem solved quicker. In any case, do not prolong your situation by managing your pain at home in the hope that it will go away on its own. The toothache will be gone for good once the dental cause is treated by your dentist.