Should You Use Toothpicks for Cleaning Your Teeth

TeethMost people think using a toothpick to clean their teeth is harmless.  After all, just about no one looks forward to flossing so why not use a toothpick instead?  There are plenty of reasons to avoid toothpicks altogether.


Below, we explain why it is a mistake to use a toothpick to clean your teeth.

Toothpicks are not Safe

Having little bits of food stuck between the teeth is incredibly frustrating.  We have all been there. The appropriate response to this discomfort is to floss the teeth.  Even if you do not want to floss your entire mouth, flossing the teeth in which the bits of food are will suffice.  Flossing is a vastly superior option to something like a toothpick.

While a toothpick can be effective every now and then if you do not have floss, there is a risk of using a toothpick. People should not use toothpicks on a daily basis or even a weekly basis.  Toothpicks are small pieces of wood that have the potential to break. If the toothpick breaks, wood can splinter, break and become stuck in the gums.

If you puncture your gum tissue with the toothpick, it opens a clear path for bacteria to move in and spur an infection.  In fact, dentists can usually tell if a patient uses toothpicks as the gum damage is evident during dental exams.

Is It Ever Acceptable to use a Toothpick?

If you are in a pinch and cannot access floss, using a toothpick to dislodge food from your teeth is acceptable.  However, you should not use toothpicks with regularity. For the most part, dentists agree toothpicks should only be used as a last resort for especially large pieces of food lodged between the teeth.

Small bits of food will prove difficult to dislodge from the teeth if you rely on a toothpick.  You might end up spending 5-10 minutes poking around, trying to eliminate the pesky little bit of food only to end up piercing your gum tissue and dealing with a nasty infection.

The best approach is to carry floss in your purse, car, backpack or another carrying case.  This way, you can floss your teeth after each meal. Even if you simply snack on something like popcorn or corn, you will be able to floss away from the few stray pieces of food that end up between your teeth.

Are There Alternative Solutions to Toothpicks and Floss?

For some people, it is not realistic to carry floss everywhere they go.  As detailed above, toothpicks are a legitimate threat to oral health. Floss picks and soft picks are better options than wooden toothpicks. These alternative options have tiny rubber tips at the ends that do not pose a threat to the teeth or gums.

What’s next?

With regular brushing and flossing, you can help keep your teeth healthy. Give Roman Khodosh DDS PC a call today at (973) 542-7597, we can help keep your teeth clean with regular appointments and act as a source of information for any other oral health issues you experience.

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