Be Careful with Toothpicks

Man with a Toothpick

Toothpicks Can Cause Dental Injury and More

Toothpicks are quick and convenient when food debris is stuck between teeth, however, they’re also a common cause of dental injury.

Because they are so sharp, toothpicks can damage the gums and other soft tissue when used carelessly. They are somewhat ineffective, often pushing debris farther between teeth or below the gum line. If you do find yourself using a toothpick, use only minimal pressure and always keep the tip pointed away from your gums.

Safe and more effective alternatives include brushing, flossing, chewing sugar-free gum, or rinsing your mouth with water.

Additionally, toothpicks can be hazardous when used to prepare food or to garnish a drink. Unexpectedly biting down on any hard object can cause tooth fracture, and most dangerous of all is to accidentally swallow a piece of toothpick. A toothpick shard can perforate the throat, stomach, or any area of the gastrointestinal tract, causing life-threatening injury or infection. So whenever using toothpicks, be sure they are not broken or splintered.

Toothpicks also do nothing to prevent plaque or cavities, so stick to the safe ways of removing food debris!

Safe Alternatives to Toothpicks

  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • Chew Sugar-Free Gum
  • Rinse with water

About Dr. William J. Black

William Black earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1988. He then went on to the UCLA School of Dentistry where he graduated in 1992. Following dental school, Dr. Black served in the U.S. Navy for 3 years as a dentist. He then settled in the Sacramento area where he opened his practice in 1996. Dr. Black is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), Sacramento District Dental Society (SDDS), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He is currently pursuing Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry and accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Black has 8 children, works actively with the Boy Scouts of America, and enjoys gardening.


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