At Weston Spencer DDS, we always remind our patients how important it is to clean their teeth on a regular basis. Not just the front surfaces, but between the teeth, too. This is essential for cavity prevention.
What’s the best way to go about getting those narrow spaces between teeth? That’s an easy one: dental floss. Our rule of thumb is to brush your teeth twice a day, and floss at least once – ideally, just before bedtime.
What about during the day, though? You’ve just had lunch, or a mid-afternoon snack, and you can feel the gunk that’s stuck between your teeth. It isn’t always easy to pull out dental floss in the middle of the day, especially if you’re in a meeting or some other appointment.
How about a good old-fashioned toothpick? They’re quick and convenient, easy to carry around, and have pointy tips that are good for digging into tight spaces.
Our quick answer? No. In fact, we frown on toothpicks. For one thing, they don’t do a very good a job compared to other options. For another, it is not unheard of for people to get splinters in their gums when a piece breaks off. You might also poke into your gums by accident.
Bottom line? They don’t clean off plaque. Which brings us back to those other options: when you’re out and about during the day, we recommend using an interdental cleaner. There are several types available at any grocery store: they’re usually made from a soft plastic with bristles on the end. They’re slender and compact, so you can slide them easily between your teeth to dislodge and remove food particles.
We’ll admit that chewing on a toothpick looks pretty cool. But they are not recommended for cleaning teeth. Use an interdental cleaner like those made by DenTek, or GUM. Floss picks are also good.