Toothpicks can be a convenient, disposable tool when you have something stuck between your teeth. Indeed, they are a ubiquitous feature in many situations. Most families have a box somewhere in their kitchen, and most restaurants will have them available to “clean up” after a meal. However, a toothpick can also prove hazardous to your teeth & gums, and possibly more!
Toothpicks are Sharp!
When using a toothpick, there is potential for injury. Toothpicks are extremely sharp and can easily wound soft sensitive gum tissue. Additionally, toothpicks may contribute to gum recession by disturbing the tissue with repeated use. That’s why when you have food stuck between your teeth, dental floss is the far safer option. We recommend keeping several packages handy in each of the areas you frequent, such as in your glovebox or at your desk at work.
Toothpicks are Hard!
Some people like to chew on toothpicks or simply enjoy holding one in their mouth. Sometimes, flavored toothpicks are used as a helpful distraction to quit smoking. While we endorse kicking bad habits, there are better ways. Toothpicks (being made from wood or plastic) are very hard and not for chewing! Doing so can produce unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth, resulting in cracks or chips.
Additionally, beware of using toothpicks in hors d’oeuvres or other meals when cooking. Unexpectedly biting into one can result in a tooth fracture. So count your toothpicks, and be sure to remove them all before serving!
Toothpick Choking Hazards
Finally, there is always the possibility of choking on a toothpick. Especially when a shard of one breaks loose, it can easily be swallowed or become stuck in the throat.
The best advice for toothpicks is to use floss instead whenever possible. And when you do “have” to use one, use it and lose it quickly!