It is a common issue that food residue gets stuck between the teeth. A toothpick can be very helpful after a meal. Some people are so used to toothpicks that they would use one regardless of if it’s necessary. However, dispite how satisfying it may be, using a toothpick can damage the teeth in many ways rather than protecting them.
It damages the enamel. There is actually a natural protective layer on the surface of our teeth – enamel, which has the function of protecting dentin. However, the enamel at the root of the tooth is relatively weakest, and it is easy to damage the enamel by frequently picking teeth with a sharp toothpick. After losing this layer of protection, the teeth will become particularly sensitive, and the sensitivity to cold, heat, acid, sweet and other stimuli will increase, which will easily cause pain.
It damages the gums. Toothpicks are generally sharp objects made with hard material like wood. If used improperly, they will damage the gums and cause bleeding. Over time, the gums will recede and the roots of the teeth will be exposed. When the gums shrink, the gaps between the roots of the teeth increase, and food residues are more likely to plug the gaps between the teeth. In severe cases, the teeth may become loose or fall off.
It could cause oral infection. Although some toothpicks are marketed as being “disinfected with high temperature”, they are still often exposed to the outside, or, in another word, bacteria. It is nearly impossible to store and use them with high hygienic standards, especially when a small box of toothpicks are shared by many people.
It could worsen the situation. When sticking a toothpick between the teeth, people often use force to move the toothpick around, especially in tight gaps. Doing so will cause the teeth to move or even loosen, and widen the gaps between the teeth, making it easier to get food stucked in the future.