Dental Picks The Untold Story
Bill Cosby said, “Dentists tell you not to clean your teeth with any sharp, metal objects. But when you go there, the first thing they grab is a metal hook…”
Those hooks are actually called “dental picks”, and they’re one of the most common tools in the dentistry trade. But Mr. Cosby has a great point: how can it possibly be safe to scrape your teeth with a pointy piece of metal? On paper, it can seem like a scary prospect, but factors such as metal type, shape, and thickness that absolutely make dental picks the right tool for maintaining your dental health.
The metal used is most often a rust-resistant stainless steel. Steel is strong and flexible, and rust-resistance is a must, given the naturally humid working environment of dental picks. Stainless steel can also be a light and agile metal in the right shape and thickness.
Perhaps the biggest question from dental patients regarding is, “How can you use a metal pick to apply pressure and not damage the enamel?” One of the answers lies in the shape of the pick itself. Most dental picks are either angled or curved, like Mr. Cosby’s hook. This simple adjustment to an otherwise straight piece of metal can make a huge difference in the amount of hand pressure that’s translated through the pick and onto the surface of the teeth.
So, too, can the thickness of the metal in question. The ends of dental picks are incredibly thin — so thin, in fact, that they can achieve much the same effect as flossing, since they’re thin enough to actually slide in between the base of the teeth and get those spots that a toothbrush simply can’t reach. The thinness of a pick also gives it some natural flexibility, which further displaces the pressure applied by the hand.
But above all, the skill and technique of the dentist holding the pick makes the most difference. Many online sites offer dental scalers, picks, and mirrors on their oral care products page, but be sure to talk to your dentist before trying to clean your own teeth in this manner, and ask them to give you a few, ahem… pointers. Helpful links.