Toothpicks, Tooth Picking and Flossing

If you find yourself flossing and picking to remove food stuck from teeth, call Drs. James and Samuel Owens at 918.455.7700. You may have improper spacing or other issues that may be causing the food to lodge in between your teeth or literally collect in your teeth.

Some people really struggle to keep their teeth clean. Some will use a wooden or plastic toothpick after eating to remove the food stuck between or on their teeth. Others prefer to vigorously floss between teeth after a meal.

While cleaning your teeth is certainly a good thing, the popularity of toothpicks and flossing begs the question, are these tools actually safe for your teeth? The short answer is “yes” if used correctly.

To Pick or Not to Pick with a Toothpick

Like your toothbrush, many people argue that tooth picks can significantly benefit you if used with care. However, when used excessively or improperly, toothpicks might scrape or damage your sensitive gum tissue. Since toothpicks are limited in their ability to reach between your teeth, most dentists recommend relying on a dental floss.


A toothpick could cause quite some damage to your gums whether it is made of wood or plastic. A toothpick may not be damaging to the teeth, but the gums take a battering when one uses the toothpick too aggressively. And you aren’t going to believe this, but here goes…Toothpicks are one of the most commonly swallowed items making them a danger to you as well.

To Floss or Not to Floss with Dental Floss

Although dental floss is generally more effective than a toothpick, it can also damage your teeth and gums if not used properly.

For proper use of dental floss, wrap each end of a length of floss around your index fingers and use your thumbs for leverage as you carefully maneuver the floss between your teeth. Angle the floss around the side of one tooth and gently move it up and down. Angle the floss around the other tooth and repeat the movement. Never cut across the gum with dental floss, but rather use the gentle up and down motion, hugging the tooth, to get the floss between the tooth and gum area.

Some foods are notorious for sticking between teeth, but if you constantly find yourself picking food from your teeth, then you may have a problem such as too much space from gum recession or gum disease. Dentists can easily examine your teeth for improper spacing, or perhaps cavities or holes that allow food and bacteria to gather inside of them. If your teeth aren’t properly shaped or aligned, or if they are infected with decay, then picking and flossing won’t address those issues.

We recommend you visit the dentist regularly for a thorough dental check-up!