Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Wake Up?

Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Wake Up

Waking up to hurting teeth in the morning is quite frustrating. You may wonder what happened overnight to cause such pain and how to tackle it. 

This not only gives a lousy start to the day but also worries over the unexplained pain. So, if you are amongst those who face such issues and question why my teeth hurt when I wake up, read till the last.

What Causes Tooth Pain in the Morning?

It is pretty common these days to wake up to a hurting tooth. This is found amongst all age groups of people. Some causes can be easily identified by visiting a dentist through a routine dental check. 

However, some other reasons may require a deeper check and several tests for confirmation. Below are the common causes of tooth pain in the morning-

1. Bruxism


Bruxism is one of the most common reasons to experience pain in the tooth during morning hours. Bruxism is tooth grinding or clenching during sleep (1). 

You often do not realize you are doing this as you have been sleeping. However, during the dental check your dentist will be able to identify this issue. When you grind your teeth, you put extreme pressure on the teeth, resulting in it to wear down. The enamel of the teeth also diminishes during tooth grinding.

2. Sinus Infection

If you have a sinus infection, it may be the prevalent reason for toothache. The location of the sinuses is just above the teeth (2). 

While sleeping, the sinuses can fill with fluids that may exert pressure on your teeth. This pressure is observed at a maximum at the upper back teeth. This doesn’t affect a single tooth but covers a general area around your teeth.

3. Gum Disease

Gum disease

Gum disease is commonly known as periodontal disease. A person suffers from such disease when plaque and tartar slowly accumulate on the tooth, irritating the gums and making the tooth pull away from the teeth (3). 

During the day, you may feel uncomfortable and experience mild pain, too. However, the intensity of the pain increases in the night or early morning hours as you wake up.

4. Pregnancy

Some women experience gum diseases during pregnancy. It is not a commonly occurring situation for all women, but every pregnancy is different. This occurs due to hormonal changes in women during this time.

5. Sleep Position

If you notice that you have tooth pain while trying to wake up but still on the bed, and it disappears in a short while, then it could be due to sleeping position. Such pain is focused in one specific area. If the tooth pain is due to the sleeping position, then there is no issue with your teeth. 

This could happen if you have the habit of keeping your hand underneath your head while sleeping. This may exert pressure up to your teeth or jaw that may result in odd jaw placement during the night, leading to discomfort and pain in the morning.

6. Mouthwash Overuse

Using an appropriate and recommended amount of mouthwash is a good idea. But if you are in the habit of using too much mouthwash, it can make your teeth sensitive and harm them. Such sensitivity can cause tooth pain.

7. Trigeminal Neuralgia (nerve damage)

The trigeminal nerve starts near the top of the ear and splits into three branches. These branches lead to the eye, cheek, and jaw on each side of the face. If this nerve is damaged, it can cause pain known as trigeminal neuralgia (4). 

This pain feels like severe spasms or jabbing pain and affects only one side of the face. This may also be the reason for an early morning toothache.

8. Dehydration

Drinking enough water throughout the day not just improves your general health but also keeps your teeth healthy. The water washes away food residue and bacteria. It reduces the risk of gum diseases by reducing dry mouth. If you notice that you wake up with a dry mouth and aching teeth in the mornings, it is important that you drink sufficient water the entire day.

9. Stomach Acid

High stomach acid may also lead to enamel corrosion, which may result in tooth sensitivity and pain.

10. Acidic food

Foods like citric acid and soda that are high in acids may erode the tooth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and nerve damage.

12. TMJ Disorder

TMJ joints are temporomandibular joints that are found on either side of the face. These joints connect the lower jaw to the skull and allow you to open your mouth and chew the food. 

Irritation and inflammation of these joints can cause TMJ disorder. People who suffer from TMJ disorder experience pain in the teeth, neck, jaw, ear, and face (5).


Tooth pain is commonly caused by cavities. Cavities cause intense, sharp pain that can come at any time. If left untreated, the condition may get worse with time. If the nerves become exposed, they can cause severe pain and swelling and may wake you up from sleep. 

Impacted Tooth

Impacted teeth, like wisdom teeth, can cause severe pain. If you wake up to swollen, painful gums behind the molars, accompanied by sharp, intense pain, you may have an impacted tooth.

Tooth Abscess

Having a decayed tooth may cause bacterial infection to spread to gums and other teeth if left untreated. This can even lead to pus formation, and that may cause throbbing pain, especially in the morning.

Home Remedies for Tooth Pain

Here are some home remedies for tooth pain-

  • Use tooth-sensitive toothpaste
  • Use a cotton ball dipped in clove oil to the affected tooth.
  • Gargle with warm salty water several times a day.
  • Wear a mouthguard at night if you grind your teeth at night.
  • Take over-the-counter decongestant if you have a sinus infection.
  • Using a cold compress on the outside of the face several times for 15 minutes.

When Should You Call a Doctor?

Seek medical assistance if you are having a severe tooth, gum pain, facial swelling, or sinus. If the pain does not subside after several days or is accompanied by a fever, contact the dentist for a proper diagnosis.

Medical Treatments for Tooth Pain

Some possible medical treatments for tooth pain are root canal treatment for cavities and decayed teeth. Scaling, root planing, dental scaling, drainage, and antibiotics treat tooth pain too. Sometimes, when no method helps, the dentist may extract the tooth.


The early morning tooth pain can be due to several reasons. It is crucial to diagnose the reason for the pain and provide early treatment for the relief. Regular professional cleaning of teeth and good oral hygiene helps to avoid tooth pain.

Image Source : freepik

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