Etiquette: Is Picking Your Teeth in Public OK?

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Picking your teeth in public is something many of us do unconsciously. But is it right? You casually lift your hand to your mouth and use a fingernail or a toothpick to gently pick on something stuck between your teeth. It’s normal. Lots of people do it. But that is the one thing that will immediately mark you as bush…straight from the village.


picking your teeth in public


It is considered rude to pick or floss your teeth out in public. Just imagine if in the process something yucky goes flying out of your mouth on the person next to you? Gross!

If you are a public flosser, you need to stop it. Seriously. What’s the point in dressing up all fancy, going to a fancy restaurant and then taking your bad manners along with you? Because it is bad manners to pick your teeth in public. You will only end up embarrassing your friends and those around you, like what happened to this lady.


What is the proper thing to do?

If you have some bits of food stuck between your teeth, it can really be quite uncomfortable. No one is asking you to live with it indefinitely. But what you can do is excuse yourself, head over to the rest room and pick your teeth in peace.


picking your teeth in public
Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

What if there is no rest room close to you?

If you are not close to a rest room and you absolutely need to pick your teeth in public, then use a napkin or a hanky. Place it over your mouth and as discreetly as possible, pick out the offending bit that’s stuck in your teeth. If you don’t have any of those handy, you could place a palm over your mouth and do what you have to do.


Basically, there is no excuse for flicking bits of food all over the people who are unfortunate enough to be standing or sitting next to you. Neither should you gross them out by flicking your masticated bits of food all over the table. Exercise some manners.


Take Away: Picking your teeth in public is rude.


Like this post? Read more etiquette posts here.


This post was first published 10th March, 2015 and reviewed 9th July, 2018


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