Why Does My Tooth Ache Hurt More at Night?

Dr. Bobby Chhoker

It’s a common phenomenon many Australians face: the sensation of a toothache intensifies as night falls. The quiet moments before sleep can be disrupted by sudden discomfort. But what is it about the nighttime that brings out the worst in a toothache? This article explores the reasons behind this curious occurrence.


The Physiology of Pain Perception

  1. Brief Overview of Pain Perception: At the root of understanding our toothache is the science of how our body perceives pain. This involves nerve endings in our teeth sending signals to our brain, which translates these signals into the sensation we recognize as pain.
  2. The Role of Distraction: Daytime is often filled with activities, work, and various stimuli. These distractions can sometimes overshadow the pain, making it seem less intense than it actually is.


Factors That Exacerbate Nighttime Tooth Pain

  1. Positioning: When you lay down to rest or sleep, the increase in blood flow to your head can intensify the sensation of a toothache.
  2. Absence of Distractions: The quiet and stillness of the night can make you more aware of any discomfort or pain in your body, including toothaches.
  3. Relaxation: As we unwind and our body enters a state of relaxation, muscles around our teeth might also relax, potentially increasing the sensation of pain.
  4. Nighttime Grinding or Clenching: Some individuals might grind their teeth or clench their jaws during sleep, which can make an existing toothache even more painful.


Natural Body Cycles

  1. Circadian Rhythms: Our body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, regulates various physiological processes. The production of cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone, varies throughout the day and might influence our perception of pain at night.
  2. Melatonin Production: While melatonin is primarily known for regulating sleep, it might also play a role in modulating pain.


Tips to Alleviate Nighttime Tooth Pain

  1. Elevate the Head: Sleeping with your head slightly raised can help reduce blood flow to the head, potentially easing the pain.
  2. Avoid Certain Foods: Limiting consumption of foods that can exacerbate tooth sensitivity or pain, especially before bedtime, can be helpful.
  3. Maintain Oral Hygiene: Ensuring a routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing can aid in preventing and managing toothaches.
  4. Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers might offer some relief. However, always use them as directed and consult with a healthcare professional if unsure.
  5. Consult a Dentist: Persistent tooth pain is a signal that you should see a dental professional. If you are based in Bondi, don’t delay getting a professional opinion and visit our team at Dr Bobby Chhoker.



Toothaches that seem worse at night are a culmination of physiological processes, our daily activities, and natural body rhythms. Understanding these factors provides a clearer picture of why this happens. However, the best course of action for any dental discomfort is to consult with a professional. Don’t let nighttime toothaches rob you of a good night’s sleep.