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Can Toothpicks Harm Your Smile?

July 12, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — ornelasdental @ 5:03 pm
A clear glass filled with toothpicks

Nobody enjoys the unsavory feeling of having bits of food debris hiding in the crevices of their smile. Despite their name, dentists generally don’t recommend toothpicks to pick things out of the spaces between your teeth. Although they are convenient, they can actually negatively affect your oral health, especially if you’re a regular user. Here’s how toothpicks are bad for your teeth and what you can use instead.

How Toothpicks Affect Your Oral Health

Chewing on toothpicks can wear down your enamel and dental appliances. If you’re using toothpicks often in the same area, you can create spaces between your teeth. The same can be said for if you are frequently using toothpicks between your dental restorations.

Unwanted gaps in your smile are not purely an aesthetic issue. If you’re not careful, they can pose a threat to your oral health. Food can get stuck in those newly-made spaces, increasing your risk of a cavity or tooth decay significantly.

Toothpicks can also break, splinter, and get lodged in your gums and soft mouth tissues. This happens more often than you think – people tend to be a little rough when they use toothpicks. Splinters can scratch and harm your gums, opening the door for bacteria to come in. Left untreated, this can lead to inflammation, discomfort, and infection.

As such, it’s better to avoid toothpicks altogether. There are several alternatives you can use instead that can achieve the same goal without harming your smile.

Alternatives to Using Toothpicks

Don’t worry! There are better and safer ways to get rid of the food between your teeth that are dentist-approved, such as:

  • Dental floss (especially waxed flat floss) 
  • Floss picks 
  • A Waterpik

The aforementioned options are all much gentler on your teeth and gums, and they are more effective in reaching every nook and cranny of your smile.

Using toothpicks gently once in a while when there are no other options is fine, but it’s not recommended. Even if you’re very careful, you could still end up doing more harm than good to your oral health.

If you’re a frequent flyer and are experiencing discomfort or sensitivity in your teeth or gums, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to get to the root of the problem.

About the Author

Dr. Joe Ornelas is a Crown Point native dedicated to providing quality preventive, emergency, restorative, implant, and cosmetic dentistry to his community. He offers same-day appointments for dental emergencies, including those that can be caused by using a toothpick. Dr. Ornelas is committed to patient safety, and his team gives first-aid guidance to patients from the first phone call to the end of their emergency appointment. If you’re interested in learning more about the effects of toothpicks on your smile, contact Dr. Ornelas at his website or by phone at (219) 663-2892.

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