3 Reasons Why Toothaches are Worse at Night

Having a nagging toothache can be quite bothersome, but it’s nothing compared to experiencing it at night. Come nighttime, toothaches will transition from being annoying to a downright agonizing thing to endure. Some people think that it’s just an old wives’ tale, but there could actually be a couple of legitimate reasons why toothaches happen to hurt more at night. Read on to find out why that may be the case.

Reason #1: More Blood Flow at Night

We all know that we get more tired at night, but it really has nothing to do with the amount of sleep we get during the day. We’re more tired at night because there’s more blood flow to our brains during that time. The body produces more adrenaline (and other substances) at night, which leads to more blood flow to the brain. This is why you’ll feel more awake after going for a jog at night, even if you’re tired from a long day at work.

As the blood rushes towards your brain, the pressure around the tooth that’s causing you pain increases. This is why toothaches are so much worse at night. The extra blood flow is not just going to your brain, it’s also being pumped into the surrounding tissue near the area of pain.

Reason #2: More Sensitivity During Sleep

The opposite of the increased blood flow at night is that our nerves become more sensitive when we sleep. Sleep and relaxation go hand in hand with each other. If you’ve ever woken up with a sudden bout of stabbing pain, you may have noticed that you’re more sensitive to pain while you’re asleep. This may be because you’re not distracted by the outside world, so your pain receptors are more active. This is also thought to be why you’re more sensitive to pain in the morning; your nerves are still slightly in a relaxed state while you sleep.

It’s the same with toothaches. Because the nerves are more sensitive when you sleep, the pain from a toothache will be worse at night. As your body relaxes, the nerves in your mouth go through the same process. A toothache may be more tolerable during the day but can become much more unbearable at night.

Reason #3: Late-Night Meals

It’s no secret that eating late at night leads to indigestion. When your body is trying to digest food, there’s an increase in stomach acid, which causes acid reflux. This is the body’s way of trying to flush out excess food and get rid of it. This can be quite uncomfortable, especially after a big meal.

It’s the same with your mouth. There’s a lot of activity that goes on in your mouth while you sleep, as your teeth are breaking down food during the night. Tooth decay can also occur while you’re asleep, especially if you don’t brush your teeth regularly.


Toothaches are never fun, especially if you get them at night. The reasons listed here prove just how possible it is to happen to you whenever you have that nagging toothache. If you have a toothache that’s bothering you, seek help from your local dental experts to get the help you need to treat your aching teeth.

Smart Dental Care is your local family dental clinic, serving the community of Holladay, UT. Dr. Nguyen and Ashton will treat you like family and make sure your teeth and mouth are as healthy as can be. Whenever you need emergency dental services, turn to Smart Dental Care. Contact us today to book an appointment!