Why Do Your Teeth Hurt When You Wake Up?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Morning toothaches are a nuisance, to say the least. Waking up to throbbing or stabbing pain in the mouth is no way to start the day, even if it subsides later on. So, what causes this pain, and what can you do about it?

Morning toothaches can be caused by various issues, including sinus infections, unconscious teeth grinding, gum disease, and tooth decay. Short-term solutions may alleviate the pain, but you should consult your dentist to prevent further damage or complications, and to hopefully fix the problem.

Your morning tooth pain might be the result of something as simple as poor sleeping posture. But it could also be a sign of more severe health issues, so it’s important not to ignore this problem. Let’s take a closer look at the possible causes of morning toothaches as well as some treatment options that may alleviate the pain in the short term.

Why Do Your Teeth Hurt in the Morning?

Young african american woman having healthy breakfast in the morning

The causes of tooth pain in the morning vary widely. If you’re having this issue, here are a few causes to consider:

Sinus Infections

Experiencing pain and discomfort near your upper back teeth in the morning could be caused by a sinus infection. Sinus infections can cause fluids to accumulate while you sleep, causing pressure in the process.

Your sinuses are located near the upper teeth, causing pain that feels similar to a toothache. If you have a sinus infection, you may also feel pain in your nose and head, along with sharp pains near your upper teeth.

However, sinus infections usually don’t feel like a single toothache. These symptoms are more generalized and affect the upper back teeth as a whole.

Night Grinding and Teeth Clenching

Clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, or bruxism can cause pain in your teeth when you wake up in the morning. Typically, people unconsciously grind or clench their teeth throughout the day or while they sleep. These symptoms are usually caused by stress, anxiety, or other heightened emotions.

Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can also cause morning toothaches. These issues are caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which eventually hardens to tartar. The tartar buildup slowly irritates and inflames the gum, causing gum recession in the process.


Pregnancy typically doesn’t cause morning toothaches, but it can increase the risk of gum disease. The hormonal transformations during pregnancy can have adverse impacts on your dental health. Pregnant women are more likely to experience dry mouth, which also increases the risk of gum disease and sensitivity.

Poor Sleep Posture

Your sleep position may be causing morning tooth pain and discomfort. If you’re experiencing more intense symptoms on one side of the mouth, it could be a sign of a poor sleeping position.

For example, falling asleep with your hands under one side of your jaw could cause a morning toothache. These risks are high if you wear bracelets to bed.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can also cause tooth pain and discomfort when you wake up. These conditions are known as trigeminal neuralgia. Touching your face, chewing, or even brushing your teeth can trigger painful symptoms. The symptoms may feel like intense jabbing or spasms. The pain usually affects one side of the face at a time.

Too Much Mouthwash

Mouthwash is normally beneficial to your oral health, but it can also be harmful in excessive amounts. Most mouthwash products contain acid that can damage the middle layer of your teeth. You may experience more sensitivity if you use mouthwash several times throughout the day.


Drinking plenty of water is crucial to your overall well-being and teeth. Water helps wash away harmful bacteria and food debris that can lead to tooth decay.

Water also ensures your mouth isn’t dry, which decreases the risk of gum disease. If you’re experiencing constant dry mouth and toothaches, try drinking more water throughout the day.

Acidic Foods

Consuming too many carbs, sugars, or acidic foods can negatively impact your enamel, which is the protective coating on your teeth. When enamel is eroded, your teeth become more susceptible to nerve damage, pain, and sensitivity. These symptoms can cause you to wake up with toothaches.

Frequent Vomiting

If you’re sick or frequently vomit, you may experience increased tooth pain and sensitivity. The acids from your stomach can erode your enamel, leading to increased pain. Be sure to speak with your primary care doctor if you’re vomiting often.

Emerging Wisdom Teeth

If your wisdom teeth are coming in, you might experience toothaches, sensitivity, and pain in the mornings. Wisdom teeth tend to grow in awkward positions. This can cause pressure on nearby teeth and result in painful symptoms.

How Do You Get Rid of a Toothache in the Morning?

Sad unhappy europian girl with toothache holds a glass of clean water

Experiencing tooth pain right as you wake up is a frustrating experience. Thankfully, there are some temporary solutions you can use to alleviate painful symptoms.

Use Oral Care Products

You can use oral care products designed for sensitive teeth like Sensodyne Sensitivity Toothpaste (on Amazon), which can help to alleviate painful symptoms. There are a wide variety of products such as toothpaste, mouthwashes, toothbrushes, floss, etc. Be sure to speak with your dental professional to determine the right products for you.

Change Your Diet

Changing your diet can also alleviate morning tooth pain. Avoid foods that are too hot or too cold. Eat fewer foods that are high in sugars and acid to prevent enamel erosion. Some foods you can cut out are carbonated sodas, candies, and juices.

Use a Saltwater Rinse

Saltwater rinses can alleviate temporary pain, swelling, and bacteria. These solutions can also help remove food debris caught in between your teeth and gums. You can use a saltwater rinse before bed or in the morning.

Stir a ½ teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water to make a saltwater rinse. Swish the solution in your mouth for up to 30 seconds. Be sure not to swallow this solution.

Take OTC Pain Medication

Over-the-counter painkillers like Aspirin, Motrin, or Advil (all on Amazon) can help alleviate symptoms in the short term. These products are designed to ease inflammation, pain, and discomfort and are standard solutions for toothaches.

However, be sure to speak with your dentist or primary doctor to determine which products suit you best. Ensure you’re following all the dosing instructions and guidelines as provided.

Use Clove Oil

For a natural solution, you can use a cotton ball dipped in clove oil (on Amazon) to alleviate painful symptoms. Clove oil contains eugenol, which is a natural anesthetic that may ease pain and discomfort while you sleep. Dip a cotton ball or q-tip in the clove oil and apply it to the painful area. A few drops should work.

Drink or Swish Peppermint Tea

Another natural solution is peppermint tea. Peppermint tea is believed to have a soothing effect on painful areas. You can drink the tea plain or swish it around your mouth before spitting it out.

Try an Ice Pack

You can use an ice pack before you go to sleep or in the mornings to alleviate symptoms. Cold compresses and ice packs can help reduce pain, sensitivity, and swelling. They achieve this by constricting the blood vessels in the painful areas.

Simply apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the painful side of your jaw for no more than 15-20 minutes. You can do this every few hours if necessary.

Don’t Use Whitening Products

Whitening products like toothpaste, mouthwash, and strips can increase sensitivity and pain. Be sure to avoid these products if you’re experiencing a toothache when you wake up. You should also consult your dentist regarding which products work best for your circumstances.

Start Using Fluoride Products

Fluoride products can strengthen your teeth and decrease sensitivity. This mineral is found in various soils, foods, and water sources around the world. Here are some more benefits to products containing fluoride:

  • Balances pH in your mouth
  • Toughens tooth enamel overtime
  • Can help redevelop and strengthen teeth
  • Protects against sensitivity, pain, and discomfort

Fluoride is in various oral hygiene products. Look for mouthwashes, toothpaste, gels, or foams. Speak with your dentist beforehand to determine the best products for your needs.

When to See a Dentist

Toothaches and pain are hard to ignore but easy to overlook. You may believe these symptoms will go away on their own, or that they aren’t too serious. However, if you don’t act fast, these issues can turn into more severe health complications. Here’s when you should see your doctor or dentist:

  • Intense tooth, sinus, or gum discomfort
  • Pain that doesn’t respond to treatment or subside after a few days
  • Swelling in the face or jaw
  • Symptoms of gum infection such as swelling, redness, bleeding, or pus
  • Fever

Tooth decay, abscesses, and gum issues must be treated by a dental professional. Be sure to contact your dentist immediately to lower the risk of infection or further oral damage.

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