Are Toothpicks Bad for Your Teeth?

October 19, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_strohman @ 6:12 pm

Knocked-over toothpick container

Nothing is more annoying than having a piece of food caught between your teeth. Whether a chunk of steak, a popcorn kernel, or other food debris, a toothpick might be your go-to solution to free the object. Although they are marketed for dental use, it’s best to leave them to check the readiness of baked goods. Contrary to what you might have heard, toothpicks are bad for your teeth and could result in a dental emergency. Instead, here’s how to remove food stuck in your teeth safely.

Risks of Using Toothpicks

Toothpicks can fit into the tightest of spaces in your mouth, but there are risks of using the sharpened pieces of wood. You can injure your gums if you aren’t careful, which can lead to pain, inflammation, and infections. Toothpicks can also damage existing dental work, like fillings and crowns. 

Not to mention, toothpicks can splinter or break. Besides having food stuck in your teeth, you could also end up with a sliver of wood trapped in your mouth. 

Removing Food Caught in Your Teeth

Dental professionals advise against using toothpicks and other sharp, pointy objects. Your fingernails aren’t any better because they can injure your gums and introduce bacteria into your mouth. 

Instead, here are the best methods to remove trapped food:

  • Rinse Your Mouth: Rinse your mouth with salt water to soften and loosen food residue. It will also reduce inflammation and pain. 
  • Brush Your Teeth: Brush your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for 2 minutes. Avoid brushing aggressively to prevent damaging your teeth and gums.
  • Floss Your Teeth: Insert waxed dental floss between your teeth and form a “C” shape around your tooth. Carefully slide it to the gum line and back up to the crown.

Contact an Emergency Dentist

If home methods fail to remove the object, it’s time to contact an emergency dentist. Don’t wait to see if it dislodges on its own because it can lead to decay, infections, and unpleasant odors. 

Your emergency dentist will get you into the office quickly and create a personalized plan to remove food remnants. In no time at all, you’ll be on your way without the irritation of pesky food in your teeth 

About Dr. Shelly Strohman

Dr. Strohman earned her dental degree at the UMKC School of Dentistry and has regularly continued her training to provide the most up-to-date solutions, like nitrous oxide and emergency dentistry. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, and many other professional organizations. Request an appointment through her website or call (940) 613-0299.

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