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dental self cleaning?
July 17, 2006 10:12 AM   Subscribe

is it ok to do self cleaning of one's teeth with dental picks?

if it is not ok, then why do they sell consumer dental picks in the drugstores.

someone asked this question on another board and a dentist responed with "leave the teeth cleaning to the professionals." his issue was with access. one can not work on one's teeth as proficienty as another person can. i buy that. but who is to say you can't clean the few teeth that you are able to visualize properly?
posted by zzztimbo to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think the units they sell in retail stores are meant to be used as daily care and maintenance, not as a substitution for, regular checkups and cleanings.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:31 AM on July 17, 2006


Are you talking about the wood stim-u-dent things or the actual metal picks? With the metal picks, there's probably a not-insignificant chance that you'll scratch or damage your tooth enamel.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:44 AM on July 17, 2006


I was given dental picks by my dentist as an alternative to floss during the time I had braces on my teeth. Are those the kind of picks you mean?

I imagine the dentist in question meant that you shouldn't try to give yourself an equivalent to a hygenist's pro cleaning, and that you shouldn't say, "oh, I pick my teeth myself, I don't need to go to the dentist" rather than "don't clean your own teeth at all." I know my dentist likes it when I brush a few times between my six-month visits.
posted by lampoil at 10:55 AM on July 17, 2006


I use toothpicks in lieu of floss with my dental hygenist's approval. In fact, she gave me a five inch long white plastic device that secures a standard round wooden pick at an angle (which is broken off to a shorter length) and allows one to reach the inside of the teeth and the teeth in the back of the mouth. It is called a Perio-Aid 2 (www.perio-aid.net). I use it all the time (like right now) and my teeth have never been cleaner or my gums in better shape (my hygenist agrees).
posted by partner at 11:40 AM on July 17, 2006


Are you talking about the metal pick-and-mirror sets? Those may cause a little gum bleeding (things get snagged or nicked). No big deal for most people, but a health danger for some. So best to check with your dentist beforehand, reminding him/her of your medical history including any of the issues on the linked list.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:16 PM on July 17, 2006


I can't imagine "metal pick-and-mirror sets" being sold in the USA.

What the dental hygenist does during a cleaning which you (probably) can't do is scraping off the plaque at and just beneath the gum line.
posted by Rash at 12:45 PM on July 17, 2006


The metal picks are used to scrape off calculus.

If you can't see what you're doing with a metal pick, though, you're likely to scrape off enamel too.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2006


I can't imagine "metal pick-and-mirror sets" being sold in the USA.

Oh they're there all right. I've seen them in the toothpaste/dental aisle of every local drugstore. Even saw them once at a Safeway (!). See also the Froogle listings, including Drugstore.com and CVS.com.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2006


i've read that the enemal "is the hardest and most resistant material in the body." unless someone is scraping away for hours and with great vigor, it is doubtful that any damange will be done to the enemal.

yes, the picks in question are the ones listed at Drugstore.com and CVS.com.
posted by zzztimbo at 1:51 PM on July 17, 2006


i've read that the enemal "is the hardest and most resistant material in the body." unless someone is scraping away for hours and with great vigor, it is doubtful that any damange will be done to the enemal.

After a couple of months of increasing pain and discomfort a couple of years ago, I finally managed to get to the dentist to find I had toothbrush abrasions. In other words I was brushing too hard and wearing away my enamel. I have otherwise healthy teeth and was using a soft toothbrush, and the dentist said it wasn't uncommon. He coated the area and I have a bendy handled toothrush now and all is good.

But yeah, enamel is a living tissue (albeit a hard one) and can definitely be damaged by incorrect care. Last thing I'd be doing in behind my teeth is scraping around with a peice of metal.
posted by shelleycat at 3:16 PM on July 17, 2006


i've read that the enamel "is the hardest and most resistant material in the body."

Oh, it is, too, right up until the moment you put surgical steel into your mouth.

Then it isn't.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:11 PM on July 17, 2006


What I've heard is that the reason they polish your teeth after scraping off the plaque is to get out the tiny scratches left by the metal picks. If you don't polish out the scratches, then bacteria can accumulate in them and start to break down the enamel.
posted by klausness at 7:10 AM on July 18, 2006


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