What to do when something gets stuck between your teeth

What Is the Best Thing You Can Do When You Have Food Stuck Between Your Teeth?

If you have ever had something stuck in your teeth or gums, you know how annoying or painful it can be (plus it doesn’t look so great). There are specific ways you should go about removing stuck food particles so that you don’t hurt your teeth and gums in the process. 

Food particles can get stuck when you’re enjoying that bowl of popcorn watching Netflix or eating filet mignon at your favorite steak house. Even non-food items can get stuck, like pencil erasers or when you absentmindedly gnaw on a pen, lost in thought (one reason why you shouldn’t ever put things in your mouth that aren’t food!) 

What Happens When Food Particles Stay Stuck Between Teeth

When food stays stuck between your teeth, it can lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay even if your teeth are cavity-free. This is because stuck food feeds the harmful germs and bacteria in your mouth as the sugars break down. That means bad breath from dry mouth cavities or gum disease which can be costly down the road to fix. This is why we recommend that you floss every single day to avoid harboring stuck particles or other oral debris that can lead to plaque and tartar growth.

How to Remove Stuck Food Particles Safely

Your instinct should be to rinse your mouth out thoroughly with some warm salt water, mouthwash or saliva (if you’re not at home), to loosen whatever is stuck and wash it away. But if the bits don’t come out, you’ll want to grab waxed dental floss or even a flossing stick. Either can slide the debris out smoothly but be sure to be gentle when maneuvering around your gums and you don’t want to pop out a filling or chip a tooth!

Caution: never use toothpicks or sharp tools to try to pry the object loose because you could injure your gums or damage your teeth.

To avoid damaging gum tissue or tooth enamel we have some tips to help you do so safely. Of course, depending on whether the particle is stuck in the back of your mouth where it’s hard to reach and clean, or you already have gum issues and the particle is stuck below the gum line, it’s better to give us a call right away and come in to have it removed.

Do’s and Don’ts

1- Don’t use a fork or hard toothpick as they can hurt teeth and gums. Stick to dental floss, a dental pick or a water flosser! These are all gentle on gum tissue and tooth enamel. 

2-Your tongue can sometimes do the trick in a pinch. Just push gently though so you don’t aggravate your jaw muscles or TMJ jaw pain if you already struggle with that. 

3-Floss gently around your gums, no matter the method. You don’t want to push the stuck food particle even farther below the gum line. This is especially important if you already have sensitive gums or gum disease.

4-Chomp on some raw vegetables to dislodge stuck food. Did you ever think that your carrot sticks act like an edible toothbrush? Crisp raw veggies are excellent tooth scrubbers.

5-If you don’t have access to your normal flossing tools and can’t wait until you get home, you can make a paper “toothpick”. Take a thin piece of paper and make a triangle by folding the corners. Then you can stick the pointy end in between your teeth holding the stuck food particle like a flosser.  

Professional Dental Assistance

If none of these methods were successful in dislodging the stuck food, it’s time for a more serious intervention as a dental emergency. This is especially necessary if you already have problems with your oral health, like bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity or gum recession. Just call our Exceptional Dentistry team at 661.349.7725 so we can help assess the situation and schedule a dental visit to get the stuck items removed. Dr. James Powell and our skilled dental team are always here to help with your smile! You can also schedule your online reservation in Palmdale, CA today!


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