The use of toothpicks to clean the interdental spaces between your teeth goes back thousands of years in history. Back then, Egyptian, African and Indian people used small twigs and the bark from trees – to clean their teeth and remove food debris.

In recent times, toothpicks have fallen out of favour as a tooth cleaning method. Poor technique can result in abrasion and damage to your teeth and gums, along the gum line.

You can safely use a toothpick by moistening and softening its tip – and by using the right technique, toothpicks can be used to dislodge large food particles trapped between your teeth quite well.

But that’s about it. The colonies of pathogenic bacteria between your teeth usually remain undisturbed.

Nowadays however, toothpicks have been replaced by far safer and effective tools to maintain oral health and hygiene, such as floss, interdental brushes and oral irrigation devices.

Despite toothpicks becoming obsolete, many people still like the feel of a toothpick and use them after a meal. One of the reasons, toothpicks have endured is because they are so easy to handle. You just pick one up and control it with just two fingers of one hand. You can even use them while watching TV.

Flossing, on the other hand, requires hours of education, constant motivation and concentration. Flossing can be unrealistically difficult to teach young children or hard for seniors to manage. It is time consuming and awkward to use. You also need to stand in front of a mirror in a bathroom, and hold the floss with two clean hands.

In a recent U.S. survey, nearly a third of patients confessed to lying to their dentist about how frequently they flossed their teeth – which was rarely.

Interdental brushes also have their own drawbacks. The surgical wire used in them can break easily, and can scratch delicate tooth surfaces and gum tissue – not to mention the set of multiple different-sized brushes that you have to carry around, and then try to remember which colour-coded brush fitted into which gap.

But what if you could combine the intuitive easy-to-use simplicity of a toothpick with the cleaning effectiveness of an interdental brush – but without all the shortcomings?

Realising that there had to be a better solution for cleaning interdental spaces easily and effectively, Canadian dentist, inventor and researcher, Dr Allan Coopersmith invented and developed the Periotwist.

The Periotwist is a single one-size-fits-all device that can apply toothpaste or medical solutions to interdental spaces – and clean them thoroughly. You hold the device with two fingers like a toothpick, and gently insert it into the interdental space. Then you simply use a push-pull action or a twisting motion to clean the entire surface area surrounding the space.

The Periotwist’s long flexible head has a squeegee-like cleaning action. With its tapered spiral tip, it can reach and clean the entire tooth surface within each interdental space. The Periotwist is reusable and won’t break – nor will it scratch your teeth or gums. It is children-friendly and takes no special skill to learn how to use.

There are no sizes to change, and according to Dr. Coopersmith – you can use it anytime and anywhere. It is also suitable for use on braces, bridges and implants.

To find out more about a “future without flossing”, check out the Periotwist website –

Images: adapted from screenshots sourced from