Everyone’s been there. Spinach lodged in your front teeth, popcorn kernels uncomfortable settled between your molars, gummi bears happily collecting in your gum line. Having something in your teeth is uncomfortable and embarrassing, and once you feel the antagonist or are told about it, all you can think about is removing it.
Picking your teeth in public is a dicey move. Even in the most casual setting, picking your teeth is rude and the epitome of bad table manners. Tooth picks are commonly used and approved of as teeth-cleaners, but even utilizing a tooth pick can be unappetizing behavior. That said, remember that the first guideline whenever you’re in the middle of a tooth-cleaning emergency is to excuse yourself from the table before performing self-dentistry, regardless of the tool.
If you can’t excuse yourself from the table, resist the urge to reach into your mouth. Instead, take a sip of water and swish it around. With some luck and persistence, this should start to dislodge the food. The combination of swiftly swished water and a pliable tongue can remove lots of deviant food.
If the water trick doesn’t work and you need a tool, a toothpick is the obvious solution. However, without a toothpick, the best tool to employ is obviously floss. Once you excuse yourself from the table, floss will do the trick in seconds. If you don’t carry floss around, there are floss alternatives. One of my favorites, and most well-known, is to use a strand of hair. At first glance, it seems horrific, but it does the trick. My hair is long, so I can just run my hand through my ponytail, come out with a loose strand of hair, take care of the problem, and no one ever has to know.
If you have short hair, or if the idea of using a strand of hair as part of your dental hygiene regimen is revolting to you, your next option is paper. The tricky thing is finding paper that is 1) clean 2) strong enough that it can survive the job but also 3) thin enough to fit into the crevices of your teeth. In a pinch, I’ve used the corner of business cards. I always have one in my purse, and they’re just the right size to fit between your teeth.
Do I have something in my teeth!? It’s a common meal-ending question (directed to only the closest friend). Usually (thankfully) the answer is no, but when it’s yes never fear: with a little creativity and determination, you’ll be food-free in no time.