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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 Yuri Kaneda, DDS

Dr. Yuri Kaneda was born in Japan and immigrated to the US when she was 4 years old with her family. She lived in Ohio, Nebraska, and Illinois before finally settling in the San Diego area. A graduate of Bonita Vista High School, she went on to the University of California Berkeley where she obtained her Bachelors in Microbiology and Immunology. After working for 2 years in growth plate research at University of California San Diego, she went to the University of California San Francisco Dental School for her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Upon graduation, she returned to San Diego where she worked as an associate in the practice of Drs. Morimoto and Yaryan, her childhood dentist. She then started her own practice in 1995 and has been at her present location since 1999 which happens to be across the street from her high school!

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