* Prices may differ from that shownMore Offers
AN EASTERN EDUCATION
Whilst I've always known toothpicks exist, it wasn't until I started travelling out to SE Asia in my Gap Year back in the mid 1990's that I actually saw people use them in public.
I went out to Asia to do voluntary teaching work with several big organisations, and I remember going to several restaurants and noodle bars in Hong Kong and Taiwan and seeing people helping themselves to the toothpicks that were always set out in a little pot in the centre of the table. Sometimes they were loose and uncovered, but more often than not they were individually wrapped inside paper sleeves, not dissimilar to the sachet packs of salt, pepper and sugar we're used to in restaurants in the West.
After experiencing a flash of shock, then surprise, I started surreptitiously observing how people were using them, and then, in the spirit of When in Rome...I had a go myself.
I observed that after a meal, it was customary to select a toothpick, unwrap it and then hold one hand cupped in front of your mouth, similar to if you were hiding a yawn. You then tipped your head down towards your plate, and with the other hand you used the toothpick to scrape away the food detritus, particularly bits of fish or meat from between your teeth. After use, the toothpick was discarded on the side of the plate.
The toothpicks were always made of a soft wood or bamboo and around 4cm long. Unlike cocktail sticks the ends were only slightly tapered with blunt ends.
It was really embarrassing at first, but after a few tries when out at meals with Asian friends I got more comfortable doing it. As a tall, pale-skinned Westerner I felt especially self-conscious but after a few tries I got fairly adept at using a toothpick.
Once I got over my ingrained Westerner embarrassment and mild disgust over picking my teeth in public it proved to be actually a really practical way of clearing annoying bits of food from between my teeth, and, with the help of a little mirror, it made it a lot easier to remove bits of green vegetable that were stuck on my front teeth!
Despite the toothpicks being made out of wood/bamboo I never encountered splinters on the toothpicks I used (so I presume they were actually made of bamboo out there). I also found that after a few seconds my saliva softened the material, making it easier to manoevre the stick into smaller interdental gaps.
IS WEST BEST?
Back in the West, I'm used to sucking a sweet, or doing gymnastics with my tongue to dislodge an irritating bit of food, but the toothpick approach was far easier and quicker. Once in a while I purchase toothpicks in the UK, but I always use them in the privacy of my own home!
I've found big packs of them available for pennies on Amazon, but they're always labelled as cocktail sticks/toothpicks, and, as stated above, the toothpicks I encountered in Hong Kong and Taiwan were subtly different in design to the cocktail sticks we widely use in Britain. Also I've found that some sticks in every pack are prone to splintering - not good when used for oral hygiene!
Nowadays, if I want to buy some I pick them up in a Chinese supermarket, as then I know I'm getting (a) a product that won't stab me in the mouth and (b) is made of bamboo and thus far less likely to splinter.
Nowadays we are able to purchase plastic interdental brushes which fulfil the role of the humble toothpick, and, of course, nylon dental floss has always been available for removing bits of gunk from between your teeth. Whilst these have their place, I can't help thinking that bamboo toothpicks are kinder to your mouth, and, being biodegradable they are kinder to the environment too.
I think there's a lot to be said for the attitudes I encountered back in the East, where it's socially acceptable to use toothpicks in public. Back here in Blighty, we have to contort our tongue, or use a discrete fingernail to dislodge a particle of food; no acceptable public dental maintenance ritual for us!
Yes I really am going to write a review on toothpicks. Reason being my partner has left a tube of them next to me and I wandered if there was an option to review them and sure enough here it is.
Toothpicks are called that for the obvious reason that you pick at your teeth with them removing left over food. My partner had a tooth problem last week and oh boy did I know about it. He was constantly whilst not complaining was digging at his bad tooth until we managed to get him to the dentist.
I picked him up a tube of toothpicks from Asda, They come in a plastic small square tube and the top has a hole so that you can shake them and one will be released from the hole. This saves having to open up the tube each time you require one and also saves the risk of them all ending up on the floor.
They cost under 40p a tube and contain 100 sticks. Each stick or pick has a very sharp pointed end which could cause damage if care not taken with them. Definitely keep away from children. These particular ones are wooden but sometimes you can get plastic types too.
China has overtaken Brazil's toothpick industry bringing in approximately US$24 billion per year from the export of toothpicks. See many people must use these. This info is taken from wikipedia website.
I know some people may prefer to use dental floss or good old toothbrush method to clean teeth lol but if you are in a restaurant this wouldn't be possible. I wouldn't feel comfortable reaching for the dental floss yet would happily sit using a tooth pick as many others do.
Ok so we know you can pick away at your teeth with these but have they any other uses?
Well yes I can use them to pick up strawberries which are about to be dipped into chocolate, They hold them well and slip out easily when they are set.
Also another use is to use them to clean out tricky places around the home, for example the grouting between tiles, edges of flooring and that stubborn bit on the cooker that the cloth won't remove.
When using for your teeth do be careful not to slip as they could make your gums bleed as they are that sharp.
Ohh a new use for me is a cheese and pineapple hedgehog, halve a pineapple, stick toothpicks full of cheese and pineapple chunks into it, perfect party centre piece.
Right then..... why are you reading a review on toothpicks?
Why am I writing one? Well let me tell you a story:-
One fine summers day I woke up with a great apetite. I was in need of some greasy food so I decided to whack some bacon in the George Foreman and make a bacon sandwich. After smothering the sandwich in Brown sauce (the only option for a bacon sandwich) I proceeded to eat it and enjoyed it very much.
This enjoyment, however was tainted as soon as I realised there were bits of bacon stuck between my teeth!!! :-o
I went in to a state of shock and panik, searching around the house for something that would get the bits out. I tried everything from the vacuum cleaner to a stanley knife, but to no avail.
Just as I was about to give up and burst into tears my phone rang... it was an anonymous number, but I still answered, albeit apprehensively.
"Seek out the toothpicks and you will forever be happy"
Is what the mysterious voice relayed to me, and then hung up. I knew this was a sign, it was my calling.
So I went to the shops and purchased a whole container's worth of toothpicks and took them home. "What to do with these toothpicks though?" I thought. I was confused so got one out the container for further inspection. Still non the wiser I sat there confused and still pissed off that I had bacon in my teeth.
I sat there fiddling with the stick for what must have been 5 minutes and had just about given up, when sub-consciously, I slipped the toothpick into my mouth and flicked around......
I had dislodged some of the bacon!!!
This feeling was great, it was like being born again! I have never experienced anything quite like it in my life. Who would of thought you could get bits out of your teeth with such a small delicate wooden stick?
Not me thats for sure.
Anyway, this product is good and comes highly recommended (you can even remove bits from your teeth) but they don't last long. I used a whole container in just one day.