You might think nothing of it. After eating that roast beef sandwich from the café, you want to get what’s stuck in the back of your mouth out for good. However, using toothpicks can put you at greater risk for damage according to your dentist in Bixby.
This may surprise you since toothpicks have been accepted everywhere as a way to remove food. Unfortunately, your dentist advises against it at all costs for the following reasons.
Wood Can Break Off into Your Gums
As you push the toothpick into your mouth to remove food, it can easily break off and get dislodged into your gums. If wood breaks your gum tissue, it makes it much easier for bacteria to enter and cause an infection. Additionally, toothpicks can’t reach the places that only dental floss can, so it’s not worth forcing if you risk more damage.
During your next dental exam, your dentist may even notice damage to your gums due to regular toothpick use.
Toothpicks Damage Your Tooth Enamel
If you regularly chew on toothpicks, your chances of damaging your tooth enamel are much higher. Once tooth enamel is lost, it can never grow back, so try to prevent materials from coming into contact with your mouth in the first place.
Chewing on any inedible material for that matter such as nails or pens will also reduce your enamel, so cease this activity as soon as possible to retain your remaining enamel.
They Damage the Roots of Your Teeth
The roots are responsible for anchoring your teeth and are covered with a thin layer of bone. If your enamel becomes worn down over time, this area can easily become exposed, causing tooth sensitivity and eventually chronic tooth pain.
The roots can also become exposed as a result of receding gums. If you’re pushing a toothpick into your gums, it can cause them to recede more quickly.
They Damage Current Restorations
If you have bonding or veneers in place, you can easily chip or even break them by using toothpicks too often. These restorations are very thin and while they are designed to handle normal wear from chewing food, they won’t survive against regular exposure to hard wood.
Consider an ADA Approved Alternative
When you need to remove food from your mouth, switch to dental floss as this is the safest and most effective way to do so. Floss is approved by the American Dental Association for removing harmful plaque on the sides of teeth. It also helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
If you struggle with traditional floss, consider buying an interdental cleaner like the Stim-U-Dent or a generic hand flosser to clean those hard-to-reach places.
Save the toothpicks for household tasks and keep them out of your mouth. Schedule an appointment with your dentist in Bixby today to learn more!
About the Author
Dr. Parnam Mohanna, DDS, FICOI, DICOI, has been in the dental industry for over 26 years, starting as a dental technician at the age of 16. He has also studied at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus and at Oklahoma State University where graduated with a degree in physiology. To learn more about his practice, contact him at (918) 216-1000 or visit his website.