Restaurants often carry toothpicks for their customers to clean their teeth with. However, before you start poking this splinter of wood around your mouth, you should know what most dentists say about toothpick use.
Frequent and vigorous toothpick use can damage your teeth and gums in several ways. It can:
- Create cracks in tooth enamel and even roots
- Lacerate gums
- Fracture dental restorations (like veneers and bondings)
So if toothpicks can harm your mouth, why do we have them around in the first place? Toothpicks were how people cleaned their teeth in ancient times and recent ones all around the world. However, now we have toothbrushes and floss, which are safer to use and clean the mouth more effectively than toothpicks do.
But what if you have food stuck in your mouth and no toothbrush or floss available? You don’t want to leave that food in your teeth creating acids and plaque. Most dentists say that in this circumstance, it is okay to use a toothpick to very gently clean your teeth. However, for most circumstances, teeth need to be cleaned with flossing and brushing.