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It’s relatively common to be tucking into a meal or snack only to have a piece of food stuck between your teeth. Sometimes it frees itself by playing it with your tongue or swishing your mouth with your beverage.

Sometimes a piece of food gets stubbornly stuck between your teeth, causing pressure and discomfort. When this happens it’s important to stay calm and be patient about clearing the piece of food safely. Dr. Scott Howe offers a few basic suggestions to consider.

You should never try to use toothpicks or sharp, pointed tools to pry the object loose, as this could injure your gums or even chip one of your teeth.

Waxed dental floss is the first thing you should reach for. The waxy coating allows the strand to slide easier between teeth without having to force it or risking snapping it into your gums.

A floss threader with wax coated floss can also be handy for working at the object from a different position. If you have an interdental brush or a dental water fountain available, it might also help you clear the piece of food.

Should all of these things fail to free the piece of food from between your teeth, you should call Dr. Scott Howe’s office in Salem, Oregon at 503.370.7651 to have it professionally removed.