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A survey has revealed that people are risking their oral health by picking their teeth with dangerous household implements!

According to the National Dental Survey, conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation in association with HealthSure, many people simply use whatever is close to hand to remove food trapped between the teeth.

Over 60% of people questioned for the survey admitted to using makeshift items to pick their teeth, with screwdrivers, scissors, needles and knives being among the answers given.

The survey, conducted in the run-up to National Smile Month (May 14-June 13) also found that a further 23% of people do get food stuck in their teeth, but choose to leave it there – increasing the risk of gum disease and bad breath.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, commented: “Clearly people really need to be educated on the importance of flossing.

“Flossing is a vital part of a good oral health routine, removing food particles from between the teeth and plaque from against gumline. It should be done once-a-day before brushing.

“However it is very important to be gentle, even when using proper dental floss, as jerking or snapping the floss into the gums can damage the gum tissue.

“The best thing to dislodge food from between the teeth with is interdental wood sticks, as these are shaped specifically for this purpose. However, cocktail sticks are not and should really be avoided.

He added: “The idea of someone picking their teeth with a screwdriver may sound amusing for a moment but it is actually a big worry that so many people are happy to use whatever is closest to hand to remove food from between their teeth. A screwdriver is hardly the most flexible of items and I don’t think people realise the damage this could do to their gums!

“As well as screwdrivers, scissors, needles and knives the survey also saw people admit to using keys, paper clips, matchsticks, earrings, nail files, pencils, cards and forks to pick food from between their teeth.

Richard Sear, managing director of national healthcare cash plan provider, HealthSure, who sponsored the survey commented: “We’re shocked that the survey has revealed that many people are still not aware of how to take basic care of their teeth.

“Flossing is a key part of a good oral health routine along with brushing twice-a-day with fluoride toothpaste and cutting down on the frequency of sugary foods and drinks.”

This year’s National Smile Month campaign is using the theme ‘Feed Your Smile’ to remind people of the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a good oral health routine