Toothache at night can make falling asleep or staying asleep very difficult. Methods to relieve or reduce the pain range from taking pain relief medication to chewing on a clove or using an extra pillow.

However, there are a number of remedies that may help people find relief and get to sleep, including taking pain relievers or applying a cold compress or even cloves to the tooth.

In this article, learn more about nine home remedies for relieving a toothache at night.

a person in a window at night who may be awake due to tooth painShare on Pinterest
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Treating a toothache at night may be more difficult, as there is not much to distract a person from the pain.

However, people can try the following methods to relieve pain:

1. Oral pain medication

Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can be an effective way to manage dental pain. In fact, some evidence suggests that NSAIDs may be more effective than opioid analgesics at reducing dental pain. As such, healthcare professionals with often recommend NSAIDs as first-line therapy for dental pain.

It is advisable to stay within the recommended dosage on the packaging. If the toothache is severe, it is best to see a dentist and speak to them about stronger pain relievers.

2. Cold compress

A common symptom of toothache is swelling. As such, using a cold compress may help ease the pain of a toothache. Evidence notes that a cold compress can help to reduce swelling and pain.

Applying a bag of ice wrapped in a towel to the affected side of the face or jaw helps constrict the blood vessels in the area, which can reduce pain to allow a person to fall asleep. Applying a cold compress to the area for 15–20 minutes every few hours in the evening may also help prevent pain when going to bed.

3. Elevation

Pooling blood in the head may cause additional pain and inflammation. For some people, elevating the head with an extra pillow or two may relieve the pain enough for them to fall asleep.

4. Medicated ointments

Some medicated ointments may also help reduce toothache pain. OTC numbing gels and ointments that contain ingredients such as benzocaine may numb the area.

However, benzocaine is not suitable for use by young children under 2 years of age.

5. Salt or warm water rinse

A simple salt or warm water rinse is a common home remedy for a toothache.

Salt water, or a saline solution, is a natural antibacterial agent, so it may reduce inflammation. This, in turn, helps protect damaged teeth from infection.

Rinsing with salt water may also help remove any food particles or debris stuck in the teeth or gums. Additionally, after rinsing, a person can gently use dental floss to help remove any food or debris between the teeth.

6. Hydrogen peroxide rinse

A 2020 systematic review suggests that rinsing with hydrogen peroxide may help to reduce plaque, gingivitis, and oral bacteria. However, the review adds that it may not be as effective as other mouthwashes.

People should always dilute food-grade hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water. Swish the solution in the mouth, but do not swallow it. This remedy is not suitable for children, as there is a risk they may accidentally swallow the mixture.

Read on to learn more about gargling hydrogen peroxide.

7. Peppermint tea

Older research notes that peppermint may contain antibacterial and antioxidant compounds. Additionally, peppermint contains menthol, which can produce a numbing effect on sensitive areas, which may help alleviate the sensation of pain.

Swishing peppermint tea or sucking on peppermint tea bags may temporarily help relieve pain from a toothache.

8. Clove oil

Eugenol, also known as clove oil, is a herbal oil that may help to relieve toothache. A 2023 study suggests that using eugenol may help to relieve pain from irreversible pulpitis, which is inflammation of the dental pulp, or tissue in the center of a tooth. Some dentists may commonly refer to pulpitis as toothache.

Eugenol acts as an analgesic, which means that it numbs the area. To use clove for a toothache, soak ground cloves in water to make a paste. Then, apply the paste to the tooth, or put it in an empty tea bag and place it in the mouth. Alternatively, gently chewing or sucking on a single clove and then allowing it to sit near the painful tooth may help relieve pain.

This is not a suitable remedy for children, as they may swallow too much clove. Single cloves can be spiky and painful if a person swallows them.

Read on to learn more about clove oil for dental pain.

9. Garlic

Garlic is a common household ingredient that some people use to relieve toothache pain.

Allicin, which is the main compound in garlic, has a strong antibacterial effect. A 2018 study suggests that garlic may be effective against cariogenic bacteria. The term cariogenic refers to bacteria that can cause tooth decay.

Simply chewing a clove of garlic and allowing it to sit near the tooth may help relieve pain. That said, the taste of raw garlic can be too strong for some people, so this may not be the right solution for everyone.

Tooth decay is a very common cause of a toothache. Tooth decay may lead to cavities if a person does not receive treatment. Cavities occur when acids and bacteria break through the enamel and eat away at the delicate tissues inside the tooth. This can expose the nerve, causing mild-to-severe pain.

Sinus infections may also cause toothache in some people. This symptom occurs as the infection drains from the head. Symptoms such as pain and pressure from the infection may hurt more at night.

Other potential causes for a toothache can include:

Toothaches can be painful in the day, but they may seem to get worse at night, particularly when a person lays down.

One reason that this may occur is because when a person is lying down, blood rushes to the head. This extra blood in the area may increase the pain and pressure that people feel from a toothache.

Another reason why many aches feel worse at night is because there are fewer distractions. With little else to focus on but the toothache, a person may find it difficult to fall asleep.

If a person is experiencing toothache or dental pain that is disturbing their sleep, they can try some home remedies for relief before they settle for bed.

For example, this may include taking NSAID medication, gargling with warm salt water, then sleeping with their pillow slightly elevated.

If a person continues to experience sleep disturbance due to dental pain, it is advisable for them to contact their dentist.

People with persistent toothache at night should contact a dentist as soon as possible. Any home remedies are only for temporary relief.

If the toothache also comes with other signs of an infection, a person may need antibiotics to clear out the infection.

When a cracked or decaying tooth is causing the pain, a person should see their dentist. They will be able to find a permanent solution.

Ignoring the signs of tooth decay, such as an aching tooth, may lead to more serious issues, including abscesses, gum disease, and tooth loss.

The following are frequently asked questions about getting rid of toothache.

What is the fastest way to stop a toothache at home?

To ease toothache quickly, a person can rinse their mouth using salt water or hydrogen peroxide. They can then apply OTC topical medications or clove oil to numb the affected area and use an ice pack.

A person should always consult a dentist if tooth pain persists, regardless of the severity of the pain.

How do you stop severe tooth pain at night?

If tooth pain is severe, a person should speak with a dentist. A dentist can treat the underlying cause and suggest tips to ease symptoms.

To ease severe tooth pain at night, a person can take OTC painkillers such as NSAIDs. Alongside painkillers, a person can also apply OTC topical medications, clove oil, or garlic to the affected area to help numb the pain and sleep with their head elevated.

Dealing with a toothache is a painful experience. Although many home remedies can provide temporary relief and help a person get some sleep, they are not permanent solutions.

Anyone who experiences a toothache for longer than 1 or 2 days without symptoms of a sinus infection should see a dentist for a full diagnosis and treatment.

They may need to clean out a cavity or consider more serious options, such as root canals or tooth extractions.

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