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Toothache- How to ease the pain and get more sleep

Ellie Anderson  By Ellie Anderson   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Tuesday 8th October 2013

Toothache- How to ease the pain and get more sleep

Toothache is a common ailment which affects the majority of people at some stage in their life. Toothache involves suffering from pain in and around the teeth and jaws and can come in varying degrees of pain, ranging from a niggling pain whilst eating to a more severe, constant ache. Whatever the extent of your pain it can really get you down.

What is even more distressing is not sleeping properly due to toothache. Lack of sleep can often coincide with discomfort in the teeth and gums and many people who suffer from toothache find that their pain worsens on an evening.

Why does toothache seem to get worse on an evening?

There are many reasons why toothache appears to get more painful on a night time or when you are in bed. Toothache may become aggravated after eating an evening meal leading to discomfort for the rest of the night. The pain is often exacerbated after eating a large meal as your tooth may be particularly sensitive to hot or cold temperatures.

People who are under a considerable amount of stress or tension may find themselves unintentionally clenching their jaws throughout the day leading to a build up of pain on an evening resulting in discomfort. Moreover, during the day people suffering from toothache can often be distracted from their pain by keeping busy at work or completing other daily activities. However on an evening when the body has the chance to relax and unwind, toothache may be felt more severely.

Toothache can also seem to worsen once you’re in bed as lying horizontally causes blood to flow more rapidly to your head putting pressure on the sensitive area of your mouth which can often result in a throbbing pain.

How can I improve my sleep?

See a dentist! Although tips and advice can be very useful, the best resource you have is your dentist. If you’ve been suffering with dental pain for longer than two days it is imperative to make an appointment with your dentist. If not treated your toothache could worsen and result in an infection.

Whilst you’re waiting for an appointment or the pain has just begun, the tips below could help you to achieve a better night’s sleep.

Medication. Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may be successful in reducing pain whilst you’re waiting for an appointment.

Food. Avoiding very hot or very cold foods throughout the day but especially in the hours leading up to going to sleep may prevent any further pain and help you to achieve a restful night’s sleep.

Unusual remedies. Some people swear by their own remedies for relieving toothache but the trick is to go with whatever works for you. Here are some of the most popular unusual home remedies: chewing garlic, chewing onion and biting cotton wool soaked in oil of cloves (available at most pharmacies).  

Elevate your head. Finding a comfortable position is half the battle when trying to sleep with toothache, therefore the key is to lie however is comfortable for you. Although, sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help calm the throbbing pain which is associated with toothache as it can limit the effect of increased blood pressure to your head when lying down.

Keep busy. After a long day at work or school the majority of people are quite content with putting their feet up and watching television. However, when you’re experiencing pain it is often a good idea to keep your brain active in order to take your mind off the affected area. Whilst completing stimulating activities to take your mind off dental pain can help to ease the pain in the hours leading up to bedtime, at the same time it is important to maintain good sleep hygiene.

If you’re experiencing pain in the hour leading up to bedtime don’t reach for your laptop or tablet to help you forget about the pain, the light emitted from these electronic devices can often confuse the body’s natural clock by replicating the effects of natural sunlight on the eyes’ photoreceptive cell. This can mislead the body into thinking that it is daytime and that instead of winding down in preparation for sleep it should be trying to stay alert. Consider reading a good book under a dimmed light or perhaps just talking to a friend or relative on an evening can help to take your mind off the pain.


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