Monday, January 12, 2015

Are Toothpicks Bad For You?

I was at a martial arts event in Chicago recently. A few of the competitors and I met at a Korean restaurant. After our meal, one of the guys started picking aggressively at his teeth. I thanked him for giving me my next blog topic.

Toothpicks have been used by humans for thousands of years. In fact, even some primates use twigs to clean debris from their teeth. Well, now it's 2015 and we are certainly more advanced than primates. We have better alternatives. Use a toothbrush and floss instead of using a toothpick.

So, are toothpicks bad for you? Well, if used carefully, then the answer is no. However, the chances of damaging the teeth and gums are very good. One reason why is that some people just aren't capable of being careful with toothpicks. Another reason is that even though we may attempt to be careful, we'll still lacerate the gums or get splinters.

My friend defended the use of toothpicks by stating he gets food stuck in between his teeth regularly. If you have lost some of the gums to recession, then you will likely develop spaces that are prone to getting food stuck. We call these spaces "black triangles:". This is the result of gum loss resulting from gingivitis or periodontitis. If this occurs, then a visit to the dentist is indicated.

Some people may also have a hole in the tooth that may be prone trapping food debris. That's a cavity. A visit to the dentist is also indicated under these circumstances.

If you have toothpicks at home, I suggest you throw them away or simply use them for something completely different such as food preparation or building wooden models of whatever you desire to create.

Toothpicks can be used to hold folds in place 
An impressive use of toothpicks

One more thing for the cool guys out there.......toothpicks are not a fashion statement.

All kidding aside, only use them if you must, but use them sparingly and be super gentle.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit


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