Taking a Toothache Lying Down: Why Your Toothache Gets Worse When You Lie Down

Unless the underlying cause is treated, a toothache can last for weeks. While you might find relief by taking painkillers or using clove oil, if your toothache pain increases when you lie down, you could be in for a few sleepless nights. A common complaint that dentists receive when treating patients for toothache is that their tooth pain seems to worsen whenever they lie down.

Sufferers of this phenomenon also state that they can relieve some of the pain by standing up again. This happens for several reasons.

Blood Circulation to the Head Increases

Naturally, when you lie down the blood flow to your head increases. A continuous, throbbing toothache is a sign that the nerve inside a tooth has become inflamed due to bacteria gaining access to the tooth via a cavity. When the blood flow to an inflamed nerve increases, this increases the pressure inside the tooth, intensifying the pain you feel.

You Could Have a Sinus Infection

If the pain you are feeling is in an upper tooth, you may actually be suffering from a sinus infection, not a tooth infection. The two can sometimes be confused simply because they are in such close proximity. For example, a toothache may cause a sinus infection and a sinus infection can sometimes cause tooth pain which increases when you lie down or stand up too quickly.

Your Awareness Increases When Lying Down

A simpler explanation is that when you lie down and are inactive, your awareness of pain naturally increases. With nothing else to focus on you can't help but focus on the toothache, thereby causing it to feel worse than it was when you were more active before going to bed.

Keep Your Head Elevated with a Pillow

To lessen this effect, use an extra pillow to keep your head elevated when you lie down. This will decrease the blood flow, lessening the pain caused by a pressure build-up within the tooth.

You Need a Root Canal ASAP

Whatever happens, a toothache is usually a sign that the nerve of a tooth is infected. Therefore, you should get to a dentist before the nerve dies and the infection spreads to the bone surrounding the tooth. Otherwise, you may end up with a nasty abscess and facial swelling. Your dentist can remove the dying or dead nerve and also remove the bacteria causing the infection. You will need a filling or dental crown but if the root canal is successful, the pain should subside.

When it comes to toothache it is best to get it treated as soon as possible. In some cases, the nerve can be saved if the tooth is treated early enough. However, even if the nerve dies, you may still use the tooth once your dentist has removed the infection and restored the tooth.