After a meal, many people want to remove food that has gotten stuck between their teeth. Many of them reach for a toothpick to get the job done. Toothpicks may seem like a convenient and portable way to remove food debris from between your teeth after a meal, but they can actually do more harm than good. Keep reading to learn three ways that this can lead to oral health damage and what you should do instead.
How Can Toothpicks Damage your Mouth?
Toothpicks may appear to be a handy tool to clean your teeth after a meal, but they can cause harm to your oral health in multiple ways, including:
- Breaking – Toothpicks can break and get lodged between your teeth or in your gums, with cheap ones being even more likely to do so. As you may imagine, splintered gums can be quite uncomfortable.
- Lacerations – Carelessness while using toothpicks can result in accidental injury to the gums, tongue, or palate. In some cases, toothpicks have even been known to pierce the roof of the mouth.
- Infection – Toothpicks can be unsanitary as poking them into the gums can transfer bacteria under the gum line, increasing the risk of infection. This can occur even if the toothpick does not cause serious damage to the mouth.
- Dental work – Using a toothpick can accidentally dislodge fillings or veneers from your teeth, causing damage to your dental work.
What to Use Instead of Toothpicks
Toothpicks can be tempting to use after a meal, but as we’ve seen, they can be harmful to your oral health. So, what should you use instead? Here are a few alternatives:
- Floss picks – Floss picks are small, plastic devices that have a piece of dental floss threaded through them. They are easy to use and can help remove food particles from between your teeth without the risk of splintering or injuring your gums.
- Interdental brushes – These are tiny brushes that are designed to clean the spaces between your teeth. They come in different sizes, so you can choose the one that’s right for you. These brushes are particularly helpful if you have larger gaps between your teeth.
- Water flossers – Water flossers use a stream of water to remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth. They are particularly helpful if you have braces or other dental appliances that make it difficult to use traditional dental floss. They can also benefit people with mobility issues, like arthritis.
- Chewing gum – Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can help remove food particles from your teeth and stimulate the production of saliva, which can help neutralize the acids that cause tooth decay.
While these alternatives are safer than toothpicks, they are not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. It’s still important to brush twice a day for two minutes and floss at least once a day to maintain good oral health. And, of course, regular visits to the dentist are also essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
About the practice
Dental Distinction is a patient-centered practice that focuses on delivering exceptional dental care to individuals and families in the Plano area. Their team of experienced and friendly dental professionals is committed to helping patients achieve optimal oral health and beautiful smiles. They offer a wide range of services, including preventive care, restorative treatments, and cosmetic procedures. Dental Distinction is dedicated to providing personalized care in a comfortable, modern environment, and they strive to exceed their patients’ expectations every time. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about their services, visit their website or call their office at 972) 423-3322.