Picture this common scene. You’re sitting on your couch or in your local movie theater. You’ve just gotten comfortable in your seat, armed with your beverage of choice and, of course, your trusty bag or bowl of that movie theater delight: popcorn.

The opening credits have just started to roll, the dramatic soundtrack is reverberating in the speakers, and you’re excited to relax and dive into your movie experience. You decide it’s time to dig into your movie theater snack and you pop a handful of popcorn into your mouth.

Then, horror of horrors! you bite down and, suddenly, you feel a sharp burst of pain in your mouth! The popcorn you just ate has poked your gums and gotten lodged in your mouth, causing painful irritation. You then spend the next two hours of your movie trying in vain to discreetly remove the popcorn using your tongue or your finger.

This situation is the bane of moviegoers and of anyone else who enjoys this tasty snack, but there are a few ways to remedy it!


Tell Me About Popcorn!

The experience of getting popcorn stuck in your teeth can range from annoying to painful and, in any case, it’s always unpleasant! But how does it get stuck in your teeth?

Popcorn is made of dried corn kernels with tough shells that are heated until the steam created inside causes them to “pop” into the white, fluffy snack that we all love so much. Popcorn, when made without too much butter or salt, is a healthy, low-fat and high-fiber food, so don’t feel guilty about indulging!

However, because of that tough shell or hull, popcorn has one annoying feature. A properly popped piece of popcorn has less of the hard shell, but even the best pieces of popcorn still have the thin remains of hull at the center of the piece. It is this thin, sharp bit of kernel that often causes tooth and gum trouble for popcorn eaters.


What’s Happening When Popcorn Gets Stuck in My Teeth?

Popcorn kernels get stuck in your teeth and gums when you bite the popcorn from just the wrong angle. It’s not your fault and, besides chewing softly, there’s not much you can do to prevent it. The sharp kernel fragment can be pushed in between your teeth or even up into your gum tissue by normal chewing and swallowing motions.


How to Get Rid of Popcorn Stuck in Your Gums

So, it’s your unlucky day! Popcorn is stuck in your gums. Never fear! Don’t sprain your tongue trying to dislodge the popcorn. Instead, try one of these tips:

1. Floss

As you may have guessed, the best way to get popcorn from your gums and teeth is to floss! Just be sure to floss using gentle motions. Flossing too aggressively can lead to gum damage.

We recommend keeping a travel-size floss dispenser in your bag or purse so you can get rid of popcorn stuck between your teeth wherever you are!


2. Brush Your Teeth

Because a floss thread can reach in between your teeth and to your gums, while your toothbrush can’t, flossing is a better tool for removing popcorn. However, if you don’t have access to flossing thread, brushing your teeth is a good alternative. Try using gentle motions brushing down from the tops of your gums.

This way, the toothbrush bristles will encourage the stuck popcorn hull down and out of your gums and teeth.


3. Rinse Your Mouth with Saltwater

Rinse your mouth with water (especially warm saltwater) to move the stuck kernel out from in your gum tissue. This method is the least reliable if you’re dealing with a popcorn piece that’s stuck pretty far into your gum; however, it’s sometimes the best option to try, especially if you don’t have access to a bathroom or mirror to floss or brush.

Using warm salt water will also help temporarily relief gum irritation caused by the uncomfortable popcorn piece.


When to See a Dentist

If nothing seems to be helping and the popcorn kernel is still stuck, even after trying all our methods, it’s time to go to the dentist. This can happen to anyone, especially if you’re wearing braces or another dental implant or device, so don’t worry about having to come in!

A stuck piece of popcorn is something that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. If left stuck, the popcorn hull can cause severe irritation and inflammation of the gums, eventually leading to painful and potentially-dangerous gum abscesses. At the dentist, your dental hygienist can use a water jet or another professional dental tool to gently remove the offending kernel without causing damage to your gums.


Get in Touch

When you visit Columbia River Dentistry in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington, you can see the difference! Our friendly dental hygienists and other staff members give you the care you need. We offer routine checkups, cleanings, cavity fillings, and much more.

Give us a call today to schedule your first visit at (503) 255-5700!

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