Tooth extraction site hurts more at night

While it is normal to experience some discomfort or pain after a tooth extraction, many people report often report that the site hurts more at night. This can be due to a few different reasons, but perhaps at the top of the list is the change in blood flow pattern. When we lie down, the blood flow to our head and face tends to increase, which can cause swelling and increased pain at the extraction site.

The increased pain could also be attributed to the fact that you have fewer distractions when in bed. During the day, we are often busy with work or other activities, which can serve as a distraction from the pain. However, at night, when we are lying in bed and have fewer distractions, we become more aware of the pain.

Another likely cause is that your pain medication is beginning to wear off. Pain relief drugs, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, typically lasts for a few hours. If the medication was taken earlier in the day, it may wear off by the time bedtime comes around, causing increased pain.

Let’s look at some tips to resolve pain at the tooth extraction site at night:

How to sleep after tooth extraction to minimize pain

After a tooth extraction, it is essential to get enough rest and sleep to promote healing and minimize pain. However, sleeping can be challenging and uncomfortable due to the pain and swelling in the extraction site.

Here are some tips on how to lie down at night when sleeping to minimize pain after tooth extraction:

1. Sleep with your head elevated

Prop yourself up with pillows or elevate the head of your bed to promote blood flow, reduce swelling, and alleviate pain.

When you lie flat, blood and fluids can pool in the extraction site, leading to swelling and discomfort. Elevating your head can help to promote drainage of fluids away from the extraction site and reduce swelling. Additionally, it can help to reduce the risk of bleeding, particularly if the extraction was performed in the lower jaw.

It is typically recommended to elevate your head using pillows or by sleeping in a recliner chair for the first few nights after the extraction. Your dentist or oral surgeon may provide specific instructions on how many pillows to use or how to position yourself for optimal healing. It is important to follow these instructions closely to help minimize pain and promote healing.

2. Sleep on your back

Avoid sleeping on your stomach or side, as this can put pressure on the extraction site and cause pain. Sleeping on your back is the best position to minimize pain and promote healing.

This position is recommended because it reduces the risk of bleeding and allows for better blood flow to the head and neck area. When lying down, gravity can cause blood to accumulate in the extraction site, which can increase swelling and prolong the healing process.

Sleeping on your back also helps to keep the head and neck in a neutral position, reducing strain on the neck and preventing further discomfort. Additionally, sleeping on your back can help prevent accidental pressure or trauma to the extraction site, which can cause further pain and slow down the healing process.

If you can’t sleep on your back, try to sleep on the opposite side of the mouth from where the extraction was done to prevent any pressure on the extraction site.

3. Avoid touching the extraction site

Keep your hands away from your mouth, and avoid touching or rubbing the extraction site. This can cause irritation and delay the healing process.

If you tend to touch your face or mouth while sleeping, try keeping your hands occupied with a stress ball or other small object to distract you from touching the extraction site.

If you are still experiencing bleeding after the extraction, your dentist may have given you a gauze pad to bite down on. You can use this to help protect the extraction site while sleeping.

4. Use a cold compress before bed

Using a cold compress before going to bed can help reduce pain and swelling after tooth extraction. Apply the cold compress on the cheek near the extraction site for about 15 to 20 minutes before going to bed.

The cold temperature will help constrict the blood vessels and reduce inflammation, which in turn will help relieve pain.

It is important to use a thin cloth or towel to wrap the cold compress to prevent direct contact with the skin, which may cause frostbite or skin damage. Repeat this process every few hours as needed to manage pain and swelling.

5. Take pain medication before bed

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, take pain medication as prescribed by your dentist before going to bed. This will help you sleep more comfortably and wake up feeling better.

6. Relaxation exercises and sleep hygiene

Deep breathing exercises

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and take slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes, and it will help relax your body and mind.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Starting with your feet, tense your muscles for a few seconds and then relax them. Move up your body, tensing and relaxing your muscles in each area until you reach your head. This exercise can help relieve tension and promote relaxation.


Imagine a peaceful and calming scene in your mind, such as a beach or a forest. Focus on the details, such as the sounds, sights, and smells, and allow yourself to relax and let go of any tension.

Listen to calming music or sounds

Soft, soothing music or nature sounds can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.

Use a comfortable pillow

Choose a pillow that supports your head and neck and helps you maintain a comfortable position while sleeping.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

These substances can interfere with sleep quality and make it harder to fall asleep.

Practice good sleep hygiene

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.

Final thoughts

After a tooth extraction, it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep due to pain, swelling, and discomfort. It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions for post-operative care, including how to lie down when sleeping, as well as using relaxation techniques and practicing good sleep hygiene to get enough shut eye at night.

If you experience any severe pain or complications, contact your dentist immediately for further guidance.


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

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