Who among us has never suffered from a toothache? And why does that tooth have to start hurting during your long awaited vacation, away from home and your own dentist? Well, to help you cope with this all to often event here are a few suggestions:

First of all, you can prevent many toothaches simply by brushing your teeth twice daily, after meals. You should use dental floss at night which helps remove those little pieces of last night’s dinner that can cause plaque, dental decay and even might increase your risk for heart attack (due to inflammation). Brushing should last about two minutes and you should try to brush all the teeth equally, not just the front teeth. Give the gum a gentle brush as well, which helps keep the gum healthy. Mouthwash, which usually contains some type of antiseptic keeps the bad breath at bay. Some brands of mouthwash contain substances which can help prevent gingivitis or inflammation of the gums, but good flossing¬† will do the same.

When the toothache starts, you can use cool compresses over the side of the face where the pain is. Use ibuprofen for pain control. Tylenol works also but only reduces the pain not the inflammation. You can try to rinse out your mouth gently with warm water, which might dislodge some of those nasty bits of food particles around the painful tooth.

Things not to do: do not put aspirin directly on or around the tooth.¬† Aspirin is an acid and will with time irritate the gum and even form an ulcer. Do not floss, as the gum is most likely inflamed and doesn’t benefit from further irritation from the flossing. Do not use grandma’s remedy or try any ‘natural’ medications- the mouth is full of bacteria and these bad boys sometimes do better when unknown ‘cures’ are used.

You should think about making a trip to the dentist if the pain persists for more than 24 hours, you have increasing swelling/redness of your face or if you develop a high fever. After hours, the emergency room can handle most dental complaints. Your dentist most likely will take special dental xrays and prescribe antibiotics. At times the tooth will need to be removed or a filling placed.

If you’re lucky, you can be back at the beach, lounging in the warm sun a few hours later.