Toothpicks seem to have two primary purposes: helping to remove food lodged between teeth, and politely stabbing olives, chunks of cheese or other small food items at social gatherings. There are, of course, other more imaginative uses for the common toothpick, such as craft projects like building model bridges, or as temporary tools for applying glue and cleaning small, hard-to-reach areas. There are nearly as many uses for toothpicks as their are types of toothpicks.
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Toothpicks geared for stimulating gums and removing food debris from between teeth are probably the most common types of toothpicks available. Many dental toothpicks are plastic to prevent splintering and breaking off between teeth. Several types of dental toothpicks made from pliable Swedish birch are available, as well. Dental toothpicks are recommended for improved oral health.
Many flavored toothpick varieties are readily available, especially those that are designed for smokers looking for an alternative to satisfy their oral cravings. Cinnamon, cloves, mint, licorice and citrus are just a few varieties of flavored toothpicks that are available. Dental toothpicks also come in mint and tea tree oil to freshen the user's breath.
From plastic-frilled to parasol-topped, party toothpicks add a colorful touch to any appetizer or cheese tray. Party toothpicks can be plastic or wooden, decorated at the top with a heart, sword, flag and more. More elegant party toothpicks are "crystal" (clear plastic), or longer than normal to hold together food items like club sandwiches or tall appetizers.
Flat or Round
Diamond Brand toothpicks claim that flat toothpicks are designed for baking purposes, while square-centered toothpicks are designed to keep from rolling off a table. Rounded toothpicks, however, are the most popular type of toothpicks. All three types of toothpicks have points at both ends.
For the person who has everything, a gold, retractable toothpick is a unique gift idea. Gold toothpicks usually come with their own carrying case, and can be topped with an initial or other personalized toothpick topper. Some retractable or non-retractable gold toothpicks even come with a diamond chip embedded in them.
Tissue-Wrapped and Grooved Toothpicks
Grooved toothpicks have a point at one end and a series of two or three grooves and the flat tip. In Japan, diners break the toothpick at the grooved end and place it atop the smaller broken end to show that the toothpick has been used. Pretty tissue-wrapped toothpicks are used to spear small sections of sushi.