Which One to Pick: Floss or Toothpicks?

Some of the tastiest snacks, including popcorn, apples, and corn on the cob can often get stuck in between your teeth and become really annoying! This can be detrimental to your oral health if these particles are not removed in a timely manner. Tooth brushes have a hard time getting in these hard-to-reach areas, and as a result you may find yourself developing halitosis, plaque build-up, gingivitis, and even eventually tooth decay. This leaves us with the choice between toothpicks and dental floss to complete the job of cleaning out the areas in between your teeth.  So, which is preferred? If your inclination points to flossing, you're correct!


Toothpicks are a commonly used tool that is often available at restaurants. These simple pieces of wood can help remove food particles, but the act of poking at your teeth and gums with this sharp tool ca be harmful. Despite the name, toothpicks are not designed for dental cleaning and should not be substituted for flossing or brushing. Toothpicks should only be used sparingly, if at all. The more frequent you use a toothpick, the more you increase your risk of damaging your gums and negatively impacting your oral health. If used aggressively, toothpicks can easily break off and become stuck between your teeth, as well as damage tooth enamel and gum tissue. They can also create tiny cuts or sores that may become infected. Individuals with veneers or other dental implants can chip or break them if they aren’t careful with toothpicks.

Dating all the way back to 3,500 BC, armies in China used splinters of wood to control bad breath. Today, toothpicks come from white birch trees in the United States. Yet, with medical advancements overtime, floss, toothbrushes, and mouthwash are optimal for keeping your smile healthy without the risk of damaging your teeth and gums.

To maintain a healthy smile, flossing should be part of your daily routine. Floss should be used particularly after each meal to remove food particles that the tooth brush cannot reach. Flossing everyday is crucial to preventing tooth decay and gum disease.  Floss is less likely to injure your gums than pointy toothpicks, but should still be used gently to avoid cutting your gums. Use a gentle sliding motion to guide the floss between your teeth and make sure to wrap the floss around the sides of each tooth.

If food is getting stuck in between your teeth on a regular basis, you could be experiencing a shift in teeth, or even cavities that allow food and bacteria to get inside of them. Thus, it is important to schedule regular dental visits for checkups and cleanings.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Kim or Dr.PradhanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.



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