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It’s not unheard of for something to get stuck between your teeth when you’re eating. In most cases, you can loosen it by playing with it with your tongue, taking a swish of your beverage, or brushing your teeth when you’re done eating.

There are some times when something can get stubbornly stuck. This is even more likely to happen if you’re eating a tough food like beef jerky, nuts, seeds, trail mix, or popcorn. Sometimes these food particles can get stubbornly stuck and even cause distress.

To help you safely remove a stuck piece of food from between your teeth, Dr. Wong offers these basic tips.

If you are experiencing discomfort, pressure, or pain, you need to remember to stay calm. You should never try to use toothpicks or any kind of sharp, pointed tool to pry it out. This could potentially chip your teeth and severely wound your gums.

Waxed dental floss is the first thing to reach for. The waxy coating allows the strand to slide easier between the teeth to work around the lodged food particle. Try not to force the floss or snap it between the teeth as this could also injure your gums. If you have one on hand, a floss threader loaded with waxed dental floss can help you work the strand at a different angle.

If you have an oral irrigator or dental water jet device on hand, you might want to try it. The concentrated stream of water could wear away or wash away the food particle without any undue pressure. Sometimes it can even clear debris that are helping hold the piece of food in place.

If you still cannot remove the food item from your teeth and you live in the Roseville, CA, area, you should call 916.784.1700 to have it professionally extracted at Johnson Ranch Dental.