Don’t Be Too Picky!

You’ve just had a great meal with friends and family in your favorite Gold Country restaurant. The food was delicious, the atmosphere lovely and all went perfectly. Except for one thing – a hunk of food the size of a nugget is firmly wedged between your back molars. What to do? You might grab a toothpick as you exit the establishment and work at getting that awful thing out from between your teeth.

Are Toothpicks Always a Good Idea?

Lots of people use toothpicks, some even a bit compulsively, so we should discuss whether or not toothpicks can be bad for your teeth. It is true that people have been using sticks to clean their teeth for centuries and we even discussed one such type of wood, Salvadora persica, in a recent article. Keep in mind, however, that the softened ends of frayed twigs are the best equipment available or affordable in some locales. When used excessively or with too much “enthusiasm,” pointed toothpicks, usually made from white birch, can do some real damage to your roots, gums and any dental appliances. Overuse of toothpicks often leads to unintentional stabs at the gums and may contribute to gum recession. Our Placerville dentists can tell when you are overdoing it with toothpicks and will gently mention the problem and suggest some alternatives.

When You Use Them, How To Use Them

Does that mean you have to leave that piece of food stuck in your teeth when leaving the restaurant? No. If you occasionally use a toothpick to gently remove morsels of food from your teeth, you should be fine. For the health of your teeth and gums, however, it is much better to carry a toothbrush and floss in your purse or glove box. You can also pick up a small case of flexible dental picks that will not splinter or poke your gums. Not only will these items help to clean your teeth, but they will also help you keep them for many years of enjoyable restaurant meals.


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