Tooth Tips for Later Life

Gums, Gaps, and Crispy Chips: How to Safely Remove Food Lodged Between Your Teeth and Gums

One of the risks of tucking into a bag of popcorn or chips is that a piece of chip or kernel shell may become lodged in the gaps between teeth or even in the gums themselves. Most of the time this doesn't happen, but when it does, it can drive you to the brink of madness. However, when trying to remove lodged kernels and chips, you need to be careful that you don't damage your teeth and gums in the process.

If you currently have food debris lodged in between your teeth, take a deep breath and follow these tips to remove it.

First off, Don't Be Too Rough

No matter how annoyed you feel, do not get too rough with your teeth or gums when trying to dislodge trapped chips or kernels. While it is normal for your gums to become irritated and swollen when food is trapped between teeth or under gums, you can make the situation much worse by being overzealous.

Refrain from using toothpicks or any other hard foreign object to remove trapped debris. You might cause a gingival abscess to form. A gingival abscess is an area of infection within the soft gum tissue that is caused by trauma. As a result, jabbing and scraping at your gums when trying to dislodge a stubborn piece of food debris is inadvisable.

Use an Interdental Brush to Remove Debris

Unlike traditional toothbrushes, interdental toothbrushes are designed to slide between your teeth. This makes them ideal for removing tightly lodged food like chips and kernel shells. If you currently do not include interdental brushes in your oral hygiene routine, now might be a good time to start.

You can also buy disposable interdental brushes from your local pharmacy or department store.

Waterpiks Are Gentle and Effective

Unlike floss or dental tape, waterpiks do most of the work for you. They are also gentler on your teeth and gums. Simply position the head of the waterpik under the area where the food is lodged, then use the stream of water to coax the food out.

Rinse with Warm Saltwater

When food debris becomes lodged between teeth or gums, your gums become swollen in response. This causes the food to become lodged even more tightly. Saltwater works by reducing the swelling of your gums, making it easier to remove the lodged chip or kernel. Once the swelling has come down, repeated rinsing may also help to dislodge the debris.

If you are unable to remove the lodged debris yourself, book an emergency dental appointment. Although you may be experiencing pain and discomfort, this is an issue your dentist can deal quickly. Remember that they have the tools necessary for such an operation. You do not. Don't take chances with your teeth and gums.