DEAR HARRIETTE: How do you tell someone you recently met that they have food lodged in their teeth? This dilemma happened to me yesterday with the hostess of a holiday party, and I ended up staying silent. Would I have embarrassed her if I had spoken up? -- Broccoli, Meet Teeth, Cincinnati
DEAR BROCCOLI, MEET TEETH: Put yourself in that person's situation. Wouldn't you want to know that you needed to clean your teeth rather than continuing to engage people all evening -- as host, no less? Of course. That means, under nearly all circumstances, it is a great idea to speak to someone, whether you know the person or not, to indicate that she or he has food stuck in the teeth.
The tricky part is figuring out a discreet way of getting the message across. Attempt to get the person's attention, and use hand gestures to point to the teeth. Ask the person if you can have a private word for a moment. Walk up to the person and deliver the message quietly. If you are sitting across the table from someone, just say "You have food in your teeth." As awkward as it may seem in the moment, trust that it is better to speak up soon to help the person avoid further embarrassment down the line.