What Happens When Food Gets Stuck in My Teeth?

Posted on: August 31, 2018


It is perfectly normal for some food particles to become stuck on teeth after eating. That does not mean it is a good thing. When food particles are left on teeth for prolonged periods, bacteria that live inside the mouth break them down into acids. These acids damage the outer protective layer of teeth called the enamel. Once teeth enamel becomes compromised, the inner layers of the person's teeth become exposed to the acids and bacteria in the mouth. This can lead to a whole host of issues like cavities, tooth decay and infections.

The risk for plaque and tartar

The food particles that get left behind on teeth after meals also turn into plaque. This is the clear, thin film that builds up on teeth during the day. Plaque houses the bacteria that convert food particles on acids, and it eventually turns into tartar when left on teeth for prolonged periods. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing; only a professional teeth cleaning can remove tartar from teeth surfaces.

Tartar has a yellowish color, and it gives teeth a yellow tint. It is also more susceptible to staining than teeth enamel. This often leaves people with significant tartar buildup with brownish stains on their teeth.

Other reasons food particles get stuck on teeth

While it is normal for food particles to become stuck on teeth after a person eats, there are also certain dental issues that can increase the quantity of food particles that can become stuck on teeth after meals.


Cavities are caused by food particles that are stuck on a person's teeth after eating, and these also lead to more debris being stuck in the person's teeth. Cavities are holes created on teeth due to tooth decay, and food particles tend to get pushed inside these spaces when a person eats. Given the extreme pressures associated with chewing, these food particles are often packed tightly inside teeth and can stay there for weeks if not removed with a dental floss or pick. The result is even more decay and further deterioration of the tooth.

Receding gums

Just as is the case for cavities, receding gums are often caused by the bacteria and acids that live inside a person's mouth. The bacteria make their way beneath the gumline, and that activates the immune system. The result is the person's gums being swollen as their antibodies fight off the bacteria. In time, this leads to the gums being pulled backward, and the teeth roots becoming exposed to the acids in the person's mouth. Teeth roots do not have enamel to protect them from these acids since they are normally protected by the gums.

Diminishing the effects of food getting stuck in teeth

Good oral hygiene is all it takes to prevent food particles that are stuck on a person's teeth from causing major dental issues. Brush twice a day, floss daily and consider using mouthwash. Contact one of our dentists to learn more about good oral hygiene.

Let's get started

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Art of Smiles – Norman D. Knowles, D.M.D., request an appointment in our Vero Beach dental office here: https://www.drnormanknowles.com. Or call us at (772) 778-0954.