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Rinse, Brush, or Floss! - Tricks to Dislodge Food in Your Teeth

We’ve all been in a situation where we realize we have something stuck in our teeth and sneakily – or perhaps not so sneakily – try to dislodge it with a substitute for floss or other safe interdental cleaner made for the task.

Next time you’re thinking of sticking a fork tine, fingernail or pen between your teeth – don’t do it. Instead, try these tips:

Excuse Yourself

There’s no science here, but it will buy you time and privacy by going  to the restroom to unstick what is stuck in your teeth. Not everyone may have a toothbrush or floss on hand, so this lets you do what you need to do politely out of the public eye.    

Rinse and Repeat

Can’t leave the conversation or situation? Grab a glass of water. A few swishes of warm water can almost always do the trick, but any liquid would help. If you’re at home and struggling with a large, painful piece wedged in your gum line (like popcorn hulls), try adding salt to the water to help reduce any swelling.

Brush Your Teeth

Brushing regularly is essential for good oral health. If you’re in a place where you can grab a toothbrush, try brushing it out first before going for the “any pointy thing in sight” attack.

Carry Floss

Flossing is one of the best ways to dislodge food stuck in your teeth. Floss is made to clean between teeth and you should be doing it daily anyway. It’s not expensive and it’s easy to take with you. In addition to the spool of floss, you have the option of carrying a small pre-threaded flosser. (Hint: save yourself suffering and toss it in your purse, car, or work bag.)

What about toothpicks?

Tools that clean between your teeth are called interdental cleaners. Dental floss is the best known. Toothpicks – the common wooden kind – are a safe interdental cleaner because the point isn’t too sharp, and the wood isn’t too hard. Oral care companies also make small disposable brush picks safe to use on your teeth and gums. Just remember that jabbing at your teeth with hard, sharp and pointed tools can damage your enamel and gum tissue and should be left to the professionals.

Should all else fail…

See Your Dentist

Should you have pain or something you cannot dislodge from between your teeth, , call your dentist to discuss your options, which may include a visit to help.

It seems like no big deal but removing food without damaging your teeth and cutting into your gums is very important. Food particles that become wedged between the gum and tooth not only feed the bacteria initiating tooth decay, but they can also lead to more serious issues – including a painful infection.