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
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    My dentist simply calls it debris (Okay, that link is not to my dentist :-) – Jim Nov 26 '12 at 16:46
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    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
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    Oh, you mean floss fodder? – J.R. Nov 26 '12 at 18:31
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    Interdental detritus, dental dongle, or dental dawdler. Two words, actually, but – user21497 Nov 26 '12 at 22:26

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
  • 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."


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.


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


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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