No movie is complete without eating popcorn. But when a piece of popcorn gets stuck between your teeth or under your gums, you should remove it as soon as possible. If left in your mouth, popcorn kernels or hulls can irritate your gum tissue and attract bacteria that can harm your gums or lead to tooth decay.
Rinse and Swish
First, try rinsing vigorously with saltwater -- 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water. The rinsing and swishing may dislodge the popcorn particles, and the salt helps calm any swelling or irritation of your gums. But take care not to swallow the rinse. Alternatively, you may be able to flush out the hull with a water jet for cleaning teeth. Keep the setting on low so you don’t force the hull farther under the gum tissue.
Brush and Floss
Dental floss is another option for removing popcorn from your teeth. Gently work the floss down between your teeth as far as it will go. Pull the floss tight against the tooth, making a "C" shape, and move it back and forth to dislodge the popcorn. Other tools used to clean between teeth -- such as soft picks or small interdental brushes -- can also dislodge the popcorn. If a hull is stuck underneath the gum tissue, try placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the hull, and sweep it out with an upward brushing motion.
Call Your Dentist
If all attempts to remove the popcorn have been unsuccessful, call your dental office. This type of situation happens frequently, so don't feel embarrassed. Your dentist can use a dental instrument to dislodge the popcorn.
- Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury: How to Safely Remove Popcorn From Your Teeth
- Dr. Robert Axelrad & Associates: The Popcorn Dilemma
- Lifetime Smiles Adult and Pediatric Dentistry: How to Remove a Popcorn Hull That has Made a Home in Your Gum
- Mouth Healthy: Dental Emergencies
- Essentials of Human Disease, 2nd Edition; Leonard V. Crowley