Dental News

Is Using a Toothpick Bad For You?

April 12, 2019

Is Using a Toothpick Bad For You?

You would not think that using a toothpick would be bad for your teeth and gums. After all, it’s called a toothpick for a reason. Toothpicks work great as an old-fashioned cleaning tool to dislodge food stuck between your teeth. It’s probably one of the oldest dental cleaning instruments, dating back to pre-historic times. Toothpicks are a small thin stick that can be made of wood, plastic, bamboo, or even metal. However, frequent and forceful use of a toothpick can irritate and damage your teeth and gums.

What a Toothpick Is Not

Cleaning between the teeth is important for oral hygiene but how you clean between your teeth affects the health of your teeth and gums. The American Dental Association does not recommend toothpicks to clean between the teeth. A toothpick is a less effective method of cleaning. A toothpick should not take the place of floss. Floss is more effective in removing food debris and plaque between your teeth. Flossing can go much deeper between the gum and teeth to remove plaque and debris. Small dental brushes and picks specially designed to clean between your teeth is more effective than a toothpick at removing food debris because they fit easily between your teeth’s gaps.

Issues With Toothpicks

Frequent use of toothpicks can ruin your smile. Toothpicks can lacerate the gums when used vigorously causing your gums to bleed. A broken splinter can become trapped in your gums causing an infection. Some people routinely chew toothpicks and can damage the tooth’s enamel. If you wear dentures or have restorative dental procedures done, toothpicks can deform and damage dentures and can chip veneers and bonding. If the gum has pulled away from the tooth, toothpicks can damage the roots of your teeth. Despite these facts, many people still use toothpicks to dislodge trapped food between their teeth. If a toothpick should be used to remove trapped food debris, it should be used cautiously. If food continuously gets trapped in your teeth, see your dentist – there may be other reasons why.

If you have any questions about using toothpicks or issues with food being stuck in your teeth, feel free to reach out to California Dental Group at (800) 407-0161 to speak with a dental professional.

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