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Is there a word that describes the tiny pieces of food that gets stuck in between your teeth after eating, and that you get rid of by brushing?

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A scientific/medical term, or just something you can say to your meal companion? – Andrew Leach Nov 26 '12 at 16:42
My dentist simply calls it debris (Okay, that link is not to my dentist :-) – Jim Nov 26 '12 at 16:46
Are you looking to point out the mote of lettuce in your friend's teeth even though you cannot dislodge the cheese log in your own? – tylerharms Nov 26 '12 at 17:07
Oh, you mean floss fodder? – J.R. Nov 26 '12 at 18:31
Interdental detritus, dental dongle, or dental dawdler. Two words, actually, but – user21497 Nov 26 '12 at 22:26
up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to Mosby's Dental Dictionary and as suggested by Jim in the comments, the term is food debris:

Particles of food remaining in the mouth after eating which collect in tooth crevices and between the teeth and may contribute to the formation of dental caries.

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This makes sense only when the context is clear. It does not inherently relate to teeth in any way at all. Food debris as a pair of words (rather than a set phrase/ dentistry term) can mean just that, occurring anywhere. I could be wrong? – Kris Nov 29 '12 at 7:41

A proper answer (food debris) has already been given; not right, but related, and suitable for extreme circumstances, is gobbet:

  1. a quantity of liquid, often in a sticky blotch
  2. a lump or chunk of something, especially of raw meat
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My comment at colopterist applies here as well perhaps? – Kris Nov 29 '12 at 7:42

In informal use, I believe there is not a specific word for this. Most people would just say "I/you have something stuck between your teeth."

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This is a case where a specific word i.e. spinach is a better substitute because we really don't want to know what the gunk or glop really is. Typically language prefers the specific but in this case, the general is aesthetically superior.

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The following single words are also frequently used to describe food that is stuck between the teeth.


a usually small part, member, or trace remaining


something that remains after a part is taken, separated, or designated or after the completion of a process


a remaining part or trace —usually used in plural

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I honestly think that no one has concocted a specific word for the pieces of food trapped in your teeth. However, I do suppose that "food debris" will suffice as a solution to those who need a word to describe the subject. Now that I remember, I do suppose I have heard the term "hocker" used before, but I do not recommend it.

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