Oral Problems Resulting From Trapped Food

Even if you brush your teeth well, lingering food debris can still cause problems….

Oral inspectionFrom a very young age, we are taught by our parents to brush our teeth well. The way that we do this will change over time as techniques develop and new technologies, such as electric toothbrushes, come into being.

Making this a habit twice a day every day is the foundation of good oral health care. Too often though, parents forget to tell their children how to clean between the teeth.

Whilst toothbrush bristles will, to some extent, help to clean in the spaces between the teeth, there are areas that are almost certain to be missed. Without making an effort to remove the small pieces of food that become trapped there, along with the accompanying bacteria, tooth decay and gum disease are likely to follow.

With this in mind, we asked our hygienist at  Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic to offer advice on the various ways that patients can help to clean between their teeth.


A good start to removing trapped food is to swill our mouths with water after we have eaten. This won’t remove all of the food and bacteria but it will help to remove the bulk of it. This is especially useful at times when you won’t be carrying out your usual brushing routine for a few hours, such as at lunch time.


As above, swilling mouthwash around the mouth and spitting will help to remove some food and bacteria from between the teeth. Some mouthwashes have additional antibacterial properties which may also help. There are some brands that also use an effervescent which ‘fizzes’ and expands and can help remove tiny trapped particles more effectively than those which don’t have this property. It is important to remind our Canterbury patients though, that the use of mouthwash should be additional to, and never a replacement for brushing your teeth well.


Some restaurants may offer these on the table. Again, they can be helpful for removing larger pieces of food that you can feel are trapped between your teeth but they won’t remove the smaller particles. These are just as likely as larger pieces of food to break down and cause damage to the enamel; so the use of toothpicks alone, is not enough to resolve the problem.

Interdental sticks

These are quite popular with some patients and allows them to floss by using an easy to hold implement – more about this shortly. For those that can use these devices effectively, they can be a useful addition to your cleaning regimen. They can be quite inflexible however and you may find a problem gaining access to areas between certain teeth.


This relative newcomer is popular with some patients. It uses fine powerful jets of water to ‘blast’ away debris from between the teeth. There is some debate about how effective these actually are, although, undoubtedly, they are better than nothing at all. Some users do find them messy and a misaimed jet that hits the back of the throat may cause the gag reflex to kick in, possibly causing an unexpeced reaction!

Dental floss

Sometimes, the old methods are the best, and, in our opinion, this is a case in point. Dental floss is cheap, easily available and is flexible enough to allow it to access all areas between the teeth. It is important that you use the correct technique and we recommend that you ask our oral hygiene team how to use it correctly. We do appreciate that it can feel a little tricky to do at first, but a bit of perseverance will make a great difference to the health of your teeth and gums.

Everybody’s teeth are different and you may need to try a few different brands before you find one that works really well for you. A lifetime of flossing certainly can contribute to a lifetime of healthier teeth and gums, so although it may take a little time to establish it into your daily routine, it will be time well spent. Although we do recommend dental floss as our preference, it is important that you do not ignore this area of your mouth. If you really find that you can’t use dental floss (and do please persevere first), then one of the other options above is better than doing nothing at all.

Finally, even the best flossing may not eliminate all of the residual food debris and ‘bad’ bacteria. This can build up, along with some minerals, on teeth and gum line in the form of tartar. This can only be removed successfully using a scale and polish procedure which can be carried out by the hygienist.

So please make sure that you practice full mouth care and brush and floss well. We also strongly recommend that patients of Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic have an appointment with the hygienist every six months. To make your appointment today, please call our Canterbury clinic on 01227 463529 and we’ll get you booked in!