No More Natural Teeth: Deciding Between Implants and Dentures

When Should You Seek Help For A Stuck Popcorn Kernel?

by Jeremiah Barnett

Popcorn is a tasty treat, but the kernels inside it can easily get wedged between teeth, or worse still, under gums. If you're currently struggling with a popcorn kernel that's stuck in your mouth, you might be wondering if you should contact your dentist, and if so, when. Read on to learn the one thing you should try before contacting your dentist and why it's so important to reach out.

Floss and Brush

There's an old standard that's very good at removing popcorn kernels: flossing and brushing your teeth.

If the popcorn kernel is stuck between your teeth, there's a very strong chance that flossing will quickly remove it. In some cases, even brushing your teeth alone might be enough to get rid of this type of stuck kernel.

However, if the kernel is under your gums, you especially have to floss. Popcorn kernels that are under the gumline can cause all kinds of problems and brushing your teeth is rarely enough to get them out.

If you floss, brush, and rinse your mouth thoroughly afterward and the kernel is still stuck, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible. There are two main reasons why kernels are such a problem, which you'll read about next.

Increase in Decay Risk

When a popcorn kernel is stuck between your teeth, it's unlikely to cause any direct damage to the surface of the teeth. Popcorn kernels are fairly soft, and if you have strong tooth enamel, it's unlikely to scratch your teeth and damage them in that way. However, it does increase your risk of developing tooth decay.

Popcorn kernels can harbor a myriad of bacteria that speed up the rate of tooth decay. If flossing and brushing didn't work, that means that anything covered by the popcorn kernel isn't being effectively cleaned. Bacteria can rapidly grow undeterred by your oral hygiene care, and that can potentially cause a cavity to form on one or both of your teeth.

Chance of Gum Infection

If the kernel is under your gumline, there are even bigger threats to your oral health. Popcorn kernels don't break down on their own without an acidic component like stomach acid breaking them down. Therefore, if a kernel is under your gums, it won't break down and fall out on its own.

If a popcorn kernel stays under your gums long enough, it can infect your gums. Bacteria can travel from the visible part of the kernel that sticks out to under your gumline, which is normally protected from most bacteria since the gums form a tight seal around teeth. Unfortunately, without quick care, gums can become painful, swollen, and infected, which will make getting the kernel out harder and more painful, too.

There's no harm in enjoying popcorn from time to time, so long as your teeth and gums are free of kernels at the end of the day. If you can't get the kernel out, talk to a dentist, such as at Carpenter Dental, for help and consider passing up the popcorn in the future.