So, a popcorn kernel got stuck between your teeth or lodged in your gums. It isn’t what you’d hoped for when you dug into that bowl of popcorn, it sure isn’t comfortable, and it might seem like a pretty simple and innocent situation – but it’s actually one you need to deal with for a couple different reasons.
If you have a corn husk – or any piece of food – stuck between your teeth, you’ll want to get it out safely within a reasonable time-frame. As the food breaks down, you’re not the only one feeding on it – the bacteria in your mouth does too. That includes the bacteria that causes dental decay and cavities.
When the food gets stuck under your gums – the situation is a little different. Not only is it a problem for your gums, but it’s a problem for your teeth too. In addition to contributing to decay and cavities – a piece of food or debris (tssk tssk nailbiters) can also cause inflammation in your gums. Unfortunately, when your gums are inflamed – it’s also often the first step on the road to other, more serious gum problems.
So no matter what – you understand it’s important to get a stuck piece of food or debris out of your teeth or gums. But you should also understand that you need to do it safely. And if you can’t do it safely, then the best option is just to wait.
So, how should you get that stuck piece of food out? You should start with floss. Rinsing or flossing should always be your first step. Always be very careful about tooth picks. If flossing doesn’t seem to work – gently running a toothpick around your gumline can sometimes do the trick.
In the rare case that you can’t get the stuck food or debris out, the next thought in your mind might be: “I may need to find a dentist near me” now. And you would be right. It’s not a terrible emergency, but if you’ve been dealing with something stuck for an extended period of time – your dentist has the skill, equipment, and expertise to get it out and assess whether there’s an infection or not.