When it comes to maintaining good oral health, teeth brushing and flossing often come to mind. Tongue cleaning is often overlooked but it’s actually more important than you may realize. The mouth is a hotbed for bacteria, and when you neglect tongue health, these bacteria can grow out of control.
Why Clean Your Tongue and What are the Benefits?
Tongue cleaning is a critical activity that should always follow teeth brushing and flossing. Failure to regularly clean your tongue can result in various ailments that not only impact your oral health but your whole-body health.
Over time, bacteria and debris can build up on the surface of the tongue. As these bacteria quickly accumulate, it doesn’t take long before the bacteria spread to the teeth and gums, causing inflammation and contributing to infection.
You may not realize the effects of not brushing right away as they can develop gradually. One of the most common problems that develops is bad breath. When you don’t remove odor-causing bacteria from the tongue, you can develop chronic foul-smelling breath.
In addition, the appearance of your may change. If you get a yeast infection, your tongue may develop a white coating that requires an antifungal prescription to treat. As food particles adhere to the tongue, it can take on a discolored appearance and may look hairy.
The biofilm that develops on your from lack of cleaning can also hinder your ability to taste. This thick biofilm can block your taste buds, altering the way you taste foods and drinks.
How to Make Tongue Cleaning a Daily Habit
If you haven’t already, consider making tongue cleaning part of your daily oral health routine. Ideally, tongue scraping or brushing should be performed after brushing and flossing your teeth but before rinsing so that you can utilize any toothpaste residue in your mouth.
The three main methods of cleaning your tongue include:
1. Daily Tongue Scraping Benefits
Tongue scraping is the most commonly used and effective method for cleaning the tongue. A study published in the Academy of General Dentistry journal found that tongue scrapers were more effective than toothbrushes in reducing odor-causing bacteria on the tongue.
To clean using a scraping tool, place the scraper at the back of the tongue. While applying downward pressure, pull the scraper toward the front of your mouth. Run the scraper under warm water to rinse any bacteria or debris. Repeat this process two to five times.
2. Daily Routine Tongue Brushing
Some people prefer to use their toothbrush to clean their tongue. This can generally save time as you are already using your toothbrush to brush your teeth. If you plan to use a toothbrush instead of a scraper, ensure that you choose a soft-bristled toothbrush rather than a hard-bristled option.
To clean your tongue with a toothbrush, stick out your tongue as far as possible and position the toothbrush head at the back of the tongue. Gently brush the length of the tongue, moving in various directions. Rinse the toothbrush and spit out any debris in the sink.
3. Daily Mouthwashes for Health
While not as effective as tongue scraping or brushing, the use of mouthwash can help kill bad bacteria on the tongue and in the mouth. There are many over-the-counter mouthwashes available that contain active ingredients designed to kill odor-causing bacteria for fresher breath.
When choosing a mouthwash, avoid alcohol-based options. The alcohol in these mouthwashes can dry and irritate the mouth, allowing bacteria to accumulate. If you’re not sure what mouthwash is best for you, ask your Melbourne FL dentist for recommendations or have your dentist prescribe one for you.
Schedule an Appointment Today
Regularly cleaning your tongue can help you maintain fresh breath, allow you to fully taste your favorite foods, and reduce your risk of oral disease. It takes just a few minutes a day and the benefits are long-lasting. To learn more or to schedule your next dental teeth cleaning with your Melbourne Florida dentist, contact Artistic Touch Dentistry at 321-724-1400.