Keeping your teeth clean and healthy is an important component of good oral health. However, it isn’t the only part of your mouth that requires stringent care. Having a clean tongue is just as important to achieving a clean mouth and good overall wellbeing.
The tongue plays many key roles, functioning as a digestive organ that facilitates the movement of food. It assists in the chewing and swallowing process and affects taste and speech. The tongue contains many nerves that allow it to detect and transmit taste signals to the brain. These include sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.
An unhealthy tongue is not able to function as effectively compared to a tongue that is regularly cleaned. Learn more about why a clean tongue is as important as clean teeth and how to properly clean and care for your tongue.
Why Clean Your Tongue?
The mouth contains billions of bacteria that live on the gums, teeth, oral tissues, and in the tiny crevices and elevations of the tongue. Over time, these bacteria multiply and accumulate in the mouth. When you don’t brush your teeth and tongue on a regular basis, these accumulated bacteria can contribute to oral health problems like halitosis, gum disease, and tooth decay. A thick biofilm also coats the tongue, making it difficult to taste food effectively.
Cleaning your tongue helps remove this buildup and can provide other key benefits, such as the following:
- Fewer Bacteria in the Mouth – According to a study published in Tropical Dental Journal, using a tongue scraper twice per day for seven days reduced the overall number of Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli bacteria in the mouth.
- Reduce Bad Breath – Many odor-causing bacteria reside on the tongue. Cleaning your tongue daily can help reduce the number of these bacteria and help you achieve fresher breath.
- Improve Your Sense of Taste – When the biofilm that covers your tongue begins to build up due to an abundance of bacteria, it can be difficult to distinguish between flavors. Cleaning your tongue can help improve your sense of taste.
- Enhance Appearance of the Tongue – Excess debris on the tongue can result in a white, coated look. Cleaning the tongue regularly helps to keep the tongue pink and healthy.
- Increase Overall Health – An accumulation of bacteria is not good for your overall health. Routinely cleaning your tongue helps to reduce the number of bacteria in your body.
How to Clean Your Tongue
There are two main methods of cleaning your tongue: via toothbrush or tongue scraper.
The Toothbrush Method:
The toothbrush method of cleaning your tongue may not be as effective as a tongue scraper, but it can be more convenient since you’re already brushing your teeth. Place a soft-bristled toothbrush at the back of your tongue and brush in small, circular motions gently. Spit out any saliva that collects in your mouth during the process. Rinse out your mouth and your toothbrush after cleaning your tongue.
The Tongue Scraper Method:
Tongue scrapers are available in several materials, such as metal or plastic. Stick out your tongue and place the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue. Apply gentle pressure and pull the scraper forward to the front of your tongue. Clean the scraper with warm water to remove any debris collected, and spit out any saliva that built up during the process. Repeat this process an additional two to five times. Clean your tongue scraper before putting it away.
While oral mouth rinses do not replace brushing or scraping your tongue, they can be used as part of a comprehensive oral health regimen. When combined with toothbrushing, flossing, and tongue scraping, the use of an oral mouthwash can help destroy any remaining bacteria in the mouth that may be contributing to bad breath or other health conditions.
Contact Hancock Village Dental in Clermont, FL
If you notice any unusual changes to your tongue, such as colored patches, sores, or if the tongue appears hairy, visit your Clermont dentist. Changes to the tongue may be a sign of a more serious condition. For more information or to speak with our dentist in Clermont, contact Hancock Village Dental.