You brush your teeth, you floss, you make regular visits to your dentist—but do you regularly brush your tongue? Some patients are surprised to learn that brushing their tongue is an important part of a good oral health routine. Your tongue is not just a source of bad breath, (which is often a sign of impending dental health problems)—it’s a vital organ to take care of whenever possible.
Caring for your tongue means better dental health
Your tongue in oral health is very important. After all, it helps you to eat and speak, so it should be no surprise that your tongue’s health directly affects your teeth, gums, palate—and other oral tissues.
When bacteria remain on your tongue, it can result in dental decay, infection, plaque and tartar buildup. Bacteria is left behind anytime you enjoy food or drink—coffee, tea, wine, soda, fruit, sugary snacks and carbohydrate rich food, etc. Since the tongue has crevices, bacteria can easily hide and multiply. This is why it is so important to thoroughly brush you tongue whenever you brush your teeth.
How to clean your tongue
Rinsing alone will not do the trick! Bacteria on your tongue is like biofilm. It leaves a coating that cannot be removed with mouthwash alone. That’s because the cells beneath the outer layer of the film survive, and you still have bad-breath-causing cells hanging out on your tongue. The only way to really get rid of them is to scrape/brush your tongue.
There are two beneficial ways to clean your tongue: with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper.
With a toothbrush, you can brush your teeth, roof of your mouth and your tongue all at the same time. Use the same motion you use to clean your teeth—back and forth, circles, and side to side—until you see that your tongue is clean and free of the “white stuff” that indicates bacteria is present. Be sure to brush your entire mouth, since all areas are susceptible to bacterial overgrowth.
If you can’t remove tongue bacteria with a toothbrush, try a tongue scraper. They’re available at most drugstores, and require a few gentle strokes down the tongue to remove the bacteria.
What if tongue cleaning doesn’t solve my problems?
Sometimes, removing bacteria won’t completely solve your oral health problems. If bad breath remains after you scrape your tongue, it may be due to other dental issues, such as tooth decay.
Unfortunately, practicing good dental hygiene also means you’ll see your favorite dentists at Fioritto Family Dental less often! If you find yourself longing for dental expertise and companionship, don’t forget to schedule an appointment with us right away. 😊