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August 15, 1966

Toothpick Perforation Of the Bowel

JAMA. 1966;197(7):593. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110070117039

To the Editor:—  The use of the toothpick as an aid to good dental and oral hygiene goes back to antiquity. According to Weinberger,1 the Chinese were among the earliest people, if not the first, to make use of the chew stick or fiber pencil either as a toothpick or as a toothbrush. The earliest records relating to toothpicks can be traced to about 3500 BC. Excavations at the site of Ningal Temple at Ur by C. Leonard Woolley unearthed a toilet set consisting of silver or gold tweezers, ear scoops, and toothpicks. The custom of placing such items in the grave with the dead suggests that those people believed that toothpicks might be useful in the future world. Greek and Roman writers recommended the use of toothpicks. Pliny advocated the use of a bone of a hare, sharp as a needle, as a toothpick to prevent mouth odors.