Toothpicks in one form or another have been used since Neanderthals walked the earth. Archeologists have determined early humans regularly cleaned their teeth with twigs or by chewing on soft woods. Through the centuries toothpicks have been made from many things including; wood, bone, ivory, shells, bird claws, animal whiskers, copper, and even ornate jewel-handled gold toothpicks for 17th century European nobility.
Every year over 200 billion toothpicks are used. Wow, seems like a lot. Today’s modern toothpick manufacturing process was invented in 1869 on a farm in Brazil, and spread throughout the modern world at the time, even becoming an after dinner fashion accessory.
But are toothpicks good for your teeth and overall oral health? The answer can be yes, if used occasionally to remove food if floss is not available; but in general the answer is no, regular toothpick use is not a benefit to your oral health. But why you ask? I know there is a satisfying feeling when you get that popcorn hull out from between your teeth or sit back after dinner and use a toothpick, why is it hurting my mouth?
The answer is that it is not directly hurting your teeth but it does have the potential to cause receding and inflamed gums, which over time will affect to health of your teeth. Poking that wooden tooth pick between your teeth at the gum line forces the gums to give way and with constant use you will form pockets on the gum line between your teeth.
Flossing and brushing twice daily is the ideal oral health care for your teeth and gums. Flossing can be a bit challenging but there are a number of good products like floss pics that are designed and made of materials to gently remove food items from between your teeth rather than using a piece of wood.
Toothpicks will probably be here for another couple of thousand years but think twice before grabbing that toothpick and wedging it between your teeth, they will thank you!