Q. I chew on toothpicks. Would this habit damage my teeth in any way?

Answered by
Dr. Muzaffer Hussain Parray
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Oct 31, 2017 and last reviewed on: Jul 24, 2019

Hello doctor,

Are birchwood toothpicks hard enough to cause damage to tooth enamel? Do they cause damage to the teeth in any way? I have pored over the internet for the answer to this question, with many dentists recommending that toothpicks should not be used or chewed on, or saying that it can cause damage to gums if used improperly. But they do not say exactly and scientifically why, if it only applies to certain woods, etc. Assume the toothpicks are being used properly and will not be causing harm to the gums. I find great pleasure in gently sucking on and chewing a couple toothpicks per day, usually once they are softened with saliva, and I want to know if this is a horrendous dental habit or a fairly harmless one.



Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • We use toothpicks in the anatomical spaces present between the teeth. The spaces are called as embrasures. While you use the toothpick, you lacerate the gingival tissue that covers those spaces (the cone-shaped gingiva present between the teeth) that results in the creation of tunnels in between you teeth hence increasing the risk of food impaction.
  • Food impaction means the food gets trapped between the teeth. Various bacteria act on this food and result in the creation of various cariogenic agents (substances that cause tooth decay) like acids, which dissolve enamel and that means your tooth would get proximal caries that will progress with time as this type of caries goes unnoticed.
  • So, do not chew on toothpicks as it is a hard surface. Chewing on hard substances weakens your enamel. I suggest you choose better options like dental floss instead.
  • You can do a gingival massage using gum paint to reverse the damage already caused to your gums.

For more information consult a dentist online --> https://icliniq.com./ask-a-doctor-online/dentist

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