Often time patients are weirded out that their tooth only hurts at night, and this can surprisingly not even be related to your tooth problem. What’s important to note is that whether it occurs during the day or during the night, a pain is always a symptom of a bigger problem.
In case this happens after dinner for example, it might be caused by a decayed tooth or even an abscess, and it’s usually made worse by hot or cold foods.
Stress is also a factor here, especially if you have a high-stress job. We often clench our jaw and grind our teeth in frustrating situations or when we’re angry, and this is completely normal way to cope with immediate stress. The problem is when we do this too often and the reason the pain happens at night is because of the, sort of speak, pain buildup. Often times, you’ll experience a toothache during the day without even knowing it, only to get a full grasp on it while you’re trying to sleep and unwind.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism
Most of us probably grind and clench our teeth from time to time, as a result of frustration or anger, but when grinding becomes more and more frequent, it often calls for the diagnose of bruxism. Bruxism is a condition that causes you to clench or tighten your jaw. There are two types of bruxism – daytime and nighttime bruxism, and the worrisome is of course the nighttime one, since that is the one we have close to no control over. As we already mentioned earlier, it’s usually a consequence of stress and anxiety. If you have the habit to grind your teeth during the day, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to control it during the night, and the end result is that you’ll suffer from a toothache. It’s also reported that bruxism can cause damage to dental restorations, such a dental crowns and teeth fillings, as well as fracturing or even teeth loss. In some cases of advanced bruxism, the situation calls for partial and even complete dentures. Due to all of these consequences, it’s advantageous to diagnose bruxism in the early stages, since they can absolutely affect the quality of your overall life.
How to spot bruxism?
The most common way a person finds out that they have bruxism is when their families or their sleeping partners point it out. Even though grinding your teeth consciously doesn’t make a lot of noise, doing it in your sleep, unconsciously, when there is usually no background noise to cover it up, can potentially be worse than snoring for people close to you and best believe you’ll hear about it. Another way to figure it out, by yourself, is if you are constantly waking up with a headache or a sore jaw, for no obvious reason. Although a telltale sign, it wouldn’t hurt to schedule a checkup with your dentist, so he can tell you if there’s anything wrong going on.
The most common and the most effective treatment for teeth grinding is wearing a protective mouthguard. This isn’t the cure, but it is a fix, since it absorbs the pressure made by teeth grinding and protects the surface of our teeth, such as dental crowns and teeth fillings.
You can get fitted for this protective mouthguard right at your dentist’s office. Although, you can opt to get it over the counter, a custom-fitted mouthguard is always a better option since it’s made specifically for you and it will fit your mouth perfectly.
Bruxism treatment is very important, since grinding can wear off the surface of our teeth, leaving them exposed to tooth decay and infections, and also result in other disorders, such as headaches, ringing in the ears, as well as the pain in the neck and shoulders.
If the bruxism is not discovered early, the main treatment is firstly repairing the damage that’s already been done and preventing any further damage, while managing current symptoms.
Bruxism is usually the result of high stress and anxiety, so the main thing to do here is learn how to reduce stress levels, and this is something that’s different for everyone. Some people engage in physical activities, while some turn to relaxation techniques, such as meditation.
Can TMJ cause toothaches that happen during the night?
Simple answer – yes, it can. TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint, can be put under pressure by constant teeth grinding. Sometimes, TMD (temporomandibular disorder) is mistaken as a toothache, but when you visit your dentist, he won’t find any decay in your teeth.
Unfortunately, it’s not ease to diagnose TMJ, because other conditions have very similar symptoms and this requires your dentist to carry out a comprehensive dental examination, in order to figure out the cause of your pain.
Another reason for pain during the night can simply be a blood rush to your head when you’re laying down horizontally, which exerts more pressure on the tooth that probably has some decay on it. Luckily, if this is a reason, it can simply be eliminated by elevating your head to reduce the blood flow, but it also requires a visit to your dentist to see what the problem with that tooth actually is.
How to relieve the pain?
Although dental treatment is very necessary in this case, home care measures can be utilized in order to alleviate the pain. You can try using over the counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, for starters.
Another great way to deal with the pain is to apply heat or cold packs and do some stretching exercises. Plenty of patients have found this method very beneficial!
Toothache is never very convenient, but it’s especially not welcome when it’s the middle of the night and you’re trying to destress, as that’s the main cause of your symptoms, just to simply not be able to. Do yourself a favor and visit your dentist’s office for a checkup and to possibly get your own mouthguard.