Has this ever happened to you? After getting home from some social event you glance in the mirror and discover a piece of food lodged in your teeth. You are embarrassed and you immediately replay the night wondering how many conversations you had with half your meal stuck in your teeth! Yep, we all have been there.
The other night after a short work meeting, I got home to realize in horror that I had a head of broccoli lodged indiscreetly between my front two teeth! How professional! I tend to make smart remarks during work meetings and wondered how many times I had made some offhanded comment with everyone wondering about my dental hygiene routines. My next thought was why didn’t anyone tell me? Of course, that would have been embarrassing too. I could just hear my boss, “Before we move on to point number three could we all have a moment of silence while someone removes a broccoli floret out of her upper incisors”. So maybe it was better that no one said anything.
Curious about the proper protocol I looked up some information on the internet regarding food etiquette. All the sites I consulted advised that it was proper etiquette for someone to quietly point out the indiscretion. One site mentioned using a napkin and gesturing to the offending area (i.e. food in the hair gesture toward the head). Another Web site added if the food is stuck in the teeth of an important person you might want to just let it go. So I am assuming that my coworkers believe I am an important person and chose to let it go (I know I am kidding myself).
One boss I had a few years ago never ceased to come back from lunch without a quarter of her sandwich stuck in her teeth. I could never tell her that I always knew what she had for lunch. I realize now that I should have brought a cloth napkin to work to wave around the mouth area and maybe she would have gotten the hint. Of course I can just claim the important person exception for not telling her — she was my boss after all.
As a rule I will just need to be more concerned with my dental habits – at least if I am going to be around other people while making my smart-ass comments. I’ll have to make it a priority to check and brush my teeth more often. I am afraid, however, that someday soon I will find myself at the end of a long table watching someone flag me down with a cloth napkin to point out my poppy seed laden teeth.