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There’s an old proverb that notes, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” That certainly applies to a healthy smile. A set of healthy pearly whites isn’t as simple as brushing for 10 seconds. Plaque is the main culprit that will wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. One of the ways people choose to prevent plaque collecting on their teeth is by using a dental pick. Here’s all you need to know about this interdental cleaner and whether you should add it to your daily oral care toolbox.

Plaque Problems

Plaque is a soft, sticky film that constantly collects on your teeth. Over time, plaque hardens into a layer known as tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional through professional cleaning.

If it isn’t removed on a regular basis, plaque can collect along the gumline and may cause cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. Cavities form when plaque acids attack teeth after a meal. These acids eventually break down tooth enamel, the protective layer found on all teeth. In extreme cases, teeth can become decayed and a person may experience tooth pain.

Plaque Removal

Flossing is one way to remove plaque, because it eliminates food particles that get caught in places a toothbrush can’t reach, such as in between teeth. But some people find using dental floss is a challenge for reasons ranging from manual dexterity to difficulty using it with braces. An alternative to floss is the dental pick.

Examining Dental Picks

A dental pick is a thin stick made of wood or plastic. In the case of a wooden pick, moisten it in your mouth first to soften the wood. Once it’s ready to use, insert it between your teeth while making sure the narrow flat part is adjacent to the gums. Use a gentle motion to remove food debris and plaque from between your teeth. Don’t ever force it into tight teeth.

For those who wear braces, a dental pick allows for better manoeuvrability in between teeth than floss. But there are some concerns about dental picks. Flossing is a better choice for cleaning between teeth and gums. The sliding action of the floss not only allows getting between teeth but also along a tooth’s entire length.

Another reason why picks may not be as effective as the floss is that picks only have one point that can reach between teeth. If a pick dislodges food particles and then moves on to the next space, the bacteria and particles remaining on the pick may be spread to the next tooth. That is why a pick would need to be wiped off or rinsed under water to remove food debris and plaque. On the other hand, a strand of floss is long enough where a new section can be used for each groove.

Whether you prefer traditional floss or a dental pick, the bigger picture is that you practice regular oral care. That starts at home with brushing at least twice each day complemented by regular flossing. And though you might be diligent with your daily tooth regimen, you’re cheating yourself if you don’t schedule regular dental checkups. A dentist will be able to verify that you’re properly taking care of your teeth and gums while also identifying any potential mouth issues before they become a bigger health issue.