Are Toothpicks Safe for Your Teeth?

Did you know that toothpicks were invented long before primitive forms of toothpaste and toothbrushes? Their simple design and ease of use made early toothpicks an almost obvious solution to cleaning teeth. However, even with today’s modern materials and advanced designs, over-reliance on toothpick use can lead to serious trouble for your teeth and gums. Though useful in a pinch, toothpicks are not as safe as you might think, and you should only use one when you have no other option for cleaning your teeth.

The Dangers of Using Toothpicks

If used with care, a toothpick can effectively dislodge food particles from the chewing surfaces and crevices of your teeth. Still, the rough wooden or plastic texture of most toothpicks can also;

  • Scrape away the protective enamel on your teeth
  • Traumatize sensitive gum tissues, causing them to recede from your teeth
  • Lacerate gum tissues, causing them to bleed
  • Harm exposed teeth roots due to gum recession (usually seen in older patients)

Safe Ways to Keep Your Teeth Clean

While they aren’t the safest choice, toothpicks aren’t inherently a bad choice. For instance, if you’re at a restaurant and don’t have a toothbrush or floss with you, then removing the remnants of your meal with a toothpick might be a good idea. If you can, though, we advise carrying floss in your purse, or in your car, so that you’ll always have a safer and more effective method of cleaning your teeth. To help loosen debris and plaque from your teeth, try rinsing your mouth with water after your meal, as well. Water is a natural anti-bacterial rinse, and can help neutralize some of the toxic substances that mouth germs produce.


As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.