Question

Oral Health

Is using a toothpick good or bad for my teeth?

A Answers (8)

  • ADe Vizio, DMD, Dentistry, answered on behalf of Colgate
    Using a toothpick is not an ideal way to remove something stuck between your teeth. Toothpicks can cause abrasion and damage to your teeth at the base, where they meet the gums. This can lead to gum disease and other dental problems.

    Instead of a toothpick, use dental floss. If you don't have any dental floss available, try using an interdental cleaner. Interdental cleaners, which you can buy at any drugstore, resemble a three-sided toothpick but are designed to fit better into the spaces between your teeth. Another alternative is a tiny brush (proxy brush) that fits between your teeth. Toothpicks, interdental cleaners, and proxy brushes work best for people who have large spaces between their teeth.
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  • The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between the teeth at least once a day using an interdental cleaner such as floss. Because a toothpick is not considered an interdental cleaner, it is not recommended for cleaning teeth.
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  • ARita Medwid, Dentistry, answered
    Toothpicks are not a good idea, and can even break off and do more harm. A broken splinter can be trapped in your gums, or you can swallow or worse, inhale a piece and have serious problems. Despite this fact, people still love to use them. A woman on a TV crime show chews on them to stop smoking, restaurants give them out as you pay the cashier, and they come in different flavors.

    So, if you must use one, try to use them just to dislodge the food trapped between your teeth by taking the tip of the toothpick near the gum line and point it towards the chewing or top edge of the tooth. Do not point into the gums. Gently lift the particle out and away from you. Don't push the pick all the way between your teeth. You will do more harm.

    Also, if you have a gumboil, or area where there is pus when you poke it with a toothpick, do not keep using a toothpick. The constant poking can lead to heart attacks, stoke, or infection of your artificial joint. The constant bacterium acts as a seeding to grow an infection in the body.
  • ASaul Miller, Dentistry, answered
    Cleaning between the teeth is very important; however, it also very important how you clean between the teeth. Depending on the size and width of the space, your dentist may advise floss, small brushes that fit the space, specially made floss or other devices.

    A toothpick is usually not recommended and may be among the most dangerous and least effective methods of cleaning.
  • AJerry Gordon, Dentistry, answered
    I am not an advocate of using a toothpick to clean in between the teeth. A toothpick can damage the gums if not used carefully and will not clean in between teeth as well as dental floss or even a commercial irrigation device like the Waterpik.
  • AJeffrey Dalin, Dentistry, answered
    A toothpick can be used to help dislodge food particles but you have to be very careful when you use one so that you do not hurt your teeth or gums. It really does not clean off plaque. Brushing and flossing are the best ways to remove plaque.
  • ASupriya Verma, Dentistry, answered

    A toothpick should only be used to dislodge large food particles between teeth. It should be used in a way so that the gums or teeth are not harmed. If you have large spaces where food gets caught constantly you can talk to your dentist about ways to close them. A toothpick should NOT take the place of floss. Floss is more effective in removing the plaque that forms between teeth and should be part of your Daily Oral hygiene routine.

  • AGerry Curatola, DDS, Dentistry, answered
    The use of a piece of wood to clean between your teeth goes far back in history. Egyptians, African and Indian tribes used twigs and bark from trees to clean teeth. Interdental wood picks and toothpicks when used carefully to remove food and debris is not harmful. It is still not a substitute to proper brushing and flossing, yet many people like the "feel" of a toothpick after a meal. Here's a good hint: moisten the toothpick by rolling it around on your tongue before picking between your teeth. The softened tip is kinder and gentler to your gums and more effective in removing plaque too.
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