Read This Before Adding Toothpicks To Keep Sandwiches Together

While the toothpick has been doing its job for years, most people rarely give it a second thought. Whether it's busily holding a potentially sloppy sandwich in place, doing the toothpick test for baking, or picking detritus from between someone's teeth, humans tend to take this handy stick of wood for granted. Data collected by Data Intelo, however, shows that this tiny object represents a substantial global market worth over $2 billion. And that's not all. The toothpick has enjoyed a rather colorful life. 

Today puts the spotlight on a not-so-lowly toothpick that once graced the incisors of the literary legend, Charles Dickens. This gold and ivory model sold for a whopping $9,150 at Bonham's New York. There is an organization devoted to toothpick holders and those who collect them called the National Toothpick Holders Collectors' Society and it boasts over 400 members. And, a toothpick artist, Scott Weaver, makes intricate works of art, some of which use over 100,000 toothpicks and take 3,000 hours to create (via All That's Interesting). Yes, it seems that many people find this lowly tooth-picking device more interesting than it appears. 

But that's not all. The seemingly benign toothpick has a dark side too. 

Thousands of people are hospitalized annually due to toothpicks

That's right. Despite the toothpick's demure size, it is actually a "bad boy," teeming with hidden dangers that will likely change how you view them forever. Inside Edition reveals that roughly 8,000 people are admitted to hospital each year with injuries caused by toothpicks. If that's not shocking enough, some of these injuries are even life-threatening. 

ABC shares the instance of a young man who unknowingly swallowed a toothpick that was concealed in his sandwich. After suffering from high temperatures and pain in his abdomen, surgery revealed that the toothpick was stuck in an artery in his intestine, allowing bacteria to enter his bloodstream. The Journal reported that an elderly man in Belfast accidentally ingested a toothpick and wound up with a perforated bowel. His doctors pointed out that anyone who wears dentures or dental plates is at an increased risk of unknowingly eating a toothpick. Medical Daily discusses a woman whose esophagus was perforated by a toothpick, which then went on to stick itself into her liver, creating a liver abscess. Inside Edition spoke to a man who ingested a broken toothpick in an appetizer and had to have part of his colon removed. 

Now that you know the dangers a toothpick can pose, perhaps you should rethink using them in sandwiches, party appetizers, and other food items. After all, protecting someone's physical well-being definitely trumps your need for an esthetically-pleasing tray of hors d'oeuvres.