Ask a Dentist

December 29, 2022

Q: Are Toothpicks Bad For Your Teeth?

A pile of wooden toothpicks

You can spot toothpicks almost everywhere: near the cashier of a restaurant, spearing a burger or sandwich, swimming in a glass of martini wearing an olive or onion, sporting colourful frills at a cocktail party or simply resting in a box of a hundred at the grocery store. 

Toothpicks are so readily available, it may be hard to believe that they’re at all bad for you. But in truth, using toothpicks frequently can damage your teeth and gums, as well as lead to possibly swallowing splinters and choking. 

Risks Of Using Toothpicks

There are multiple reasons why dentists don’t recommend toothpicks to clean between your teeth. Here are a few: 

  • They can break and stick in your gums. When toothpicks are poorly made or used harshly, broken splinters can lead to gum inflammation, particularly when they’re not removed as soon as possible.
  • They may cause infection. The sharp point of a toothpick can easily puncture your gums or accidentally cut your mouth. This creates an open wound that’s vulnerable to bad bacteria.
  • They can damage dental work like veneers or fillings. When you greatly exacerbate the use of toothpicks on existing dental restoration, it can loosen, fracture or even cause the loss of the restoration. 

Alternatives To Toothpicks

The best way to remove food debris from between your teeth is with dental floss. Dental floss is a much better alternative to toothpicks, as it is difficult to break them in a way that can damage your teeth and gums. You can also carry dental floss around, making it readily available for you when you’re eating outside. Learn the proper way to floss your teeth in our previous dental blog

If you need a dental cleaning or someone to demonstrate how to floss properly, our dental professionals are happy to help! Our team at Dental Image Therapy Centres can recommend which type of floss is perfect for your teeth and suggest other ways you can improve your dental health at home. Give us a call today or visit us at one of our Winnipeg clinics in Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre.

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