Who has never resorted to the traditional toothpick to remove that dirt from lunch without having to go to the bathroom to floss? Although the practice is quite common, it can significantly compromise oral health.
Known in all human cultures, the use of the toothpick is old. There are signs that date back to the Neanderthals – whose dental arches show signs of habit. Even primates have been spotted handling pieces of wood for the same purpose. However, the first factory was patented only in 1872.
The dentist in sandy Oregon explains that every act of cleaning your teeth must be smooth and delicate; the opposite of the proposal offered by the toothpick. “Because it is a rigid material, the chances of hurting the gums are high, and this can cause serious problems such as bone retraction.”
Also, the professional reiterates that the use of the toothpick does not replace other oral hygiene items. “The idea is to exchange it for dental floss, which, besides offering less risk, removes unwanted dirt more efficiently. People always look for something easy to take care of their teeth, like a magic mouthwash. There is no such thing; brushing your teeth takes work; it takes time and must be done gently; there is no other way”.
To give up the habit, our dentist in sandy Oregon listed five reasons for not using the toothpick anymore.
Increases the risk of infections
Handling the tool requires the use of force to remove dirt. “As the use, in general, is done without the aid of a mirror, the risk of ending up hurting the gums during the process is significant. A small perforation at the site can become a gateway for bacteria and end up generating serious infections, mainly because the material cannot be sterilized”.
It is not efficient
Although it seems that the toothpicks help to clean, the object gives only a false impression of hygiene. In most cases, the toothpick partially removes dirt and ends up pushing a good part of the waste to the corner of the teeth. “Subsequently, when oral hygiene is carried out with the brush, removing dirt becomes much more difficult. With common use, bacterial plaques grow and, consequently, cavities develop”.
Causes gingival retraction
Skinning and consequent gingival retraction may occur due to pressure exerted on the site. There is a reduction in the space of coverage of the tooth by the gums in this condition, leaving it more exposed.
Removes tooth enamel
Due to the rigid characteristic, the toothpick can wear off the tooth enamel – mineralized tissue to protect against bacteria and cavities. “Despite being a minor erosion, frequent use can cause failures, which, over time, facilitate the entry of bacteria”.
Increases gaps between teeth
Pushing the toothpick in the space between the teeth slightly distances them, mostly when the action is done several times a day. “It ends up working in a similar way to a dental appliance that is constantly pushing teeth, but in the opposite direction.”