During a meal, it is normal for tiny pieces of food to lodge between your teeth. This is especially true when you are eating foods that don't break apart easily, such as meat like steak and stringy vegetables like spinach. And, if you are unfortunate, you won't notice those foods stuck between your teeth until someone else, usually someone you know well, points them out to you!
However, visible food between your front teeth isn't the only embarrassing thing you might have to contend with after a meal. There is the smell too. If you don't remove wedged food early enough, your breath soon takes on an unpleasant odour. But why is this?
Trapped Food Particles Rot in Your Mouth
Did you know that the digestive process starts in your mouth? Enzymes in your saliva begin breaking food down in your mouth before you swallow it. This helps your body to take in the nutrients from the food you eat more easily. If food stays trapped in the interproximal spaces of your teeth, your saliva will continue to break it down, essentially causing it to rot. But why the smell?
Essentially, the same thing happens when you throw old food into the rubbish bin. The food begins to rot, and eventually it gives off a foul odour. This foul odour is pungent because the bacteria and fungi that are breaking the food down release sulfur into the air as they work. The same thing happens in your mouth.
Unfortunately, as bad as the smell of rotting food on your breath is, it's the not the only thing that should worry you. A piece of food lodged between your teeth is much more than just a cosmetic issue. As bacteria break down trapped food, they release acids along with sulfur compounds. These acids erode the enamel layer of your teeth and irritate your gum tissue.
This is why your gums might become sore and swollen when food remains trapped between your teeth.
Trapped Food Damages Your Teeth
The longer you leave food trapped between your teeth, the more damage your teeth and gums suffer as a result. After meals, rinse your mouth out with water to remove trapped food. And, if food remains trapped between your teeth, use some floss to remove it. However, if you are going to brush your teeth, wait 20-30 minutes. This gives your saliva a chance to neutralize any acid in your mouth.
Acid softens your tooth enamel. Thus, brushing too soon after a meal will damage your enamel and weaken your teeth. Trapped food can look and smell unpleasant. However, if you leave it too long, it can damage your teeth as well. As such, remove trapped food as soon as possible after every meal.
For more information on oral health, contact a local dentist.