Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

Foreign Object Firmly Stuck in Teeth: What Should You Do?

by Brett Clark

Did your parents ever have to tell you to stop biting your fingernails? Your teeth exist to help you grip and chew your food, and also to help regulate your speaking (consider how many vocal sounds require your tongue to touch your teeth). Essentially, your teeth shouldn't be used to bite anything that isn't edible, and yet this is something that many people choose to ignore. Sure, chewing on your fingernails is a minor issue, and is unlikely to damage your teeth, but what about if you use your teeth as a tool to open packaging, containers, or even bottles?  This does pose a potential risk of damaging your teeth, scraping away the surface enamel or even chipping a tooth. There is also the possibility that your efforts will result in a foreign, non-food piece of debris becoming stuck between your teeth. What exactly should you do if something becomes lodged in your teeth?

Start with Rinsing

Gently rinsing your mouth in order to loosen the small piece of plastic, wood or even metal is the best place to start. Use only water (or salted water) to achieve your goal. If the object has begun to cause irritation to your gums, then the use of mouthwash can cause further aggravation. Ideally, the object will become loose with this rinsing and can then be spat out.

Continue with Flossing

If the object is too firmly lodged between your teeth to be removed with mere rinsing, then try using dental floss. This might not be as simple as it sounds. When the object is non-pliable, flossing has the potential to drive the object downwards to your gums (or upwards, if the object is stuck in your top teeth), possibly worsening the situation. You could also carefully use a wooden toothpick to push the object away from your gums. Avoid using any hard implements to remove the object. Just because you feel you could grasp the object with tweezers, remember that it only takes a slight slip of the hands to cause damage to your gums and teeth.

Outside Assistance

If you've been unsuccessful after making reasonable efforts to remove the object, you should call in some outside assistance. This involves a visit to your dentist in order to have the offending item removed. If the object has sharp edges and is already pressing into your gums (causing subsequent discomfort and perhaps even bleeding), then you should visit an emergency dentist for prompt removal of the object. Ignoring the problem or waiting too long runs the risk of causing further harm to your teeth and gums.

The easiest way to avoid repeating this experience is by making sure that the only thing your teeth need to bite is food.