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It’s not uncommon for a small piece of tough food, like meat fibers, popcorn hulls, fruit peels and even small, hard seeds, to become lodged between your teeth while you’re eating. Even though these can usually be cleared away with brushing and rinsing, there are times when a food particle can become stubbornly stuck between your teeth.

In a situation like this, your dentist, Dr. Craig Thomas, offers these steps for safe removal.

The first thing to try is vigorously rinsing the area with lukewarm saltwater. This might help dislodge the food particle on its own. If anything, it could give you a better view of the problem.

You should never use toothpicks or sharp, pointed tools to pry the object loose. This could injure your gums or even damage your teeth.

Waxed dental floss is the ideal tool for clearing the object from between your teeth. The waxy coating allows the strand to slide easier between teeth to work around the foreign object. You should never force the floss into place because it could seriously injure your gums. A floss threader loaded with waxed floss might also help you work at it from a different position.

If the object is still stubbornly lodged between your teeth, you can always call Carolina Avenue Dental Care at 843-899-5911 to have it professionally extracted.