interdental
The Oral Health Foundation is warning against interdental cleaning with unusual items

Earrings, crisp packets and a pen knife were some of the more unusual items used to maintain our oral health.

That’s according to a poll from the Oral Health Foundation, as part of National Smile Month, which asked what respondents use to clean in between their teeth.

Outside of interdental brushing and flossing, cocktail sticks came top (39%) of the undesirable items, with a large number of us also reaching for business cards (10%) and bank notes (4%) to remove that bit of left over lunch.

‘I am sure we have all experienced it, getting a bit of rogue food stuck between our teeth after eating and then reaching for whatever is on hand to dig it out, but this habit is putting our mouth in serious danger,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘Reaching for an earring or business card may be convenient, or even sound amusing, but is actually very concerning.

‘Items such as this can easily damage the tooth and do real harm to the gums, as well as risking infection by being incredibly unhygienic.

‘Cleaning between our teeth every day is very important as, otherwise, we are only cleaning two thirds of the surface of our teeth, bacteria can then build up and this can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and eventually even tooth loss.

‘Our gums can be very sensitive and once damaged take a long time to recover, so please put those bank notes down, you really don’t know where they have been, and make sure you keep some dental floss on hand just in case you need it.’

Interdental cleaning

Two in three of us use something other than floss and interdental brushes to clean between our teeth, the poll found.

Some of the more unusual items listed include:

  • Hat pin
  • Hair
  • Metal afro pick
  • Pen knife
  • Scissors
  • Paper clip
  • Food skewer
  • Sage Leaves
  • Earring
  • Crisp packet.

‘Cleaning regularly between our teeth is a vital part of looking after our mouth,’ Jessica Hulme of Philips Sonicare, supporters of National Smile Month, said.

‘We should be cleaning between our teeth at least once a day.

‘Your dental team can show you proper interdental cleaning techniques if we need more advice.’