The antimicrobial effect of birch toothpicks impregnated with 4% NaF, 8% SnF2, or 2% chlorhexidine was studied both in vitro and in vivo. A non-impregnated toothpick served as a control. In vitro, suspensions of Streptococcus mutans were exposed to the various toothpicks for 20 min and then cultured on blood agar. The results of this susceptibility test revealed the following ranking order with respect to inhibition: chlorhexidine > SnF2 > NaF and non-impregnated; with significant differences in colony-forming units (CFU) between these three groups. In vivo, 12 individuals used the 4 types of toothpick 3 times a day for 5 days in a procedure with a crossover design. Saliva and approximal plaque samples were collected at baseline and on various occasions up to 23 days after the treatment. At the same time, plaque-pH was measured at approximal sites 10 min after rinsing with 10% sucrose. The results of these in vivo experiments revealed lower proportions of mutans streptococci after using all four types of toothpick, but the reduction was significant only after 2 days for the toothpicks impregnated with SnF2 and chlorhexidine (P< 0.05). On the sampling occasions 9 and 23 days after the treatment, the mutans streptococci were more or less back to baseline levels again. In saliva no significant differences in the number of mutans streptococci were found either within or between the four treatments. No significant differences were found regarding decline in the plaque-pH between the NaF-, SnF2-, chlorhexidine-, and non-impregnated toothpicks on any of the sampling occasions.