Don’t Forget About Cleaning Your Tongue
The tongue is mostly made of muscles and is covered by a mucous membrane. The tongue’s upper surface contains small nodules of tissues known as papillae. In between the many papillae are taste buds which provide you with your sense of taste. Papillae on the tongue are there to help grip food while your teeth are chewing. These small, raised protrusions also allow us to differentiate between sour, sweet, salty, savory, and bitter flavors. While papillae have several important roles, they can also harbor bacteria, plaque, dead skin cells, and food debris. Over time, these substances can build up on the tongue, resulting in bad breath and other oral health issues. Cleaning your tongue on a regular basis is key to maintaining good dental health and improving overall well-being.
Importance of Cleaning Your Tongue
The textured surface of the tongue allows bacteria and other small particles to collect, forming a multi-layered biofilm. Water alone is not enough to penetrate this biofilm and rid the mouth of harmful bacteria. For this reason, it’s important to clean your tongue frequently.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry that elevated the effects of tongue scraping and tongue brushing on existing plaque levels, the test group that scraped and brushed their tongue showed significant reductions in plaque counts after 10 days and after 21 days when performed with regular tooth brushing.
Three Proven Tongue Cleaning Methods
Cleaning your tongue regularly can help reduce an accumulation of unwanted bacteria in the mouth that can lead to a coated tongue, bad breath, plaque buildup, and other oral health problems.
There are three effective methods for cleaning the tongue:
The most effective method of cleaning your tongue involves the use of a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers can be found in a variety of sizes and shapes but most appear with a long handle with a slightly rounded top that looks like an inverted spoon. Others are formed into a V-shape.
When using a tongue scraper, you’ll want to stick out your tongue as far as you can and place the tongue scraper at the very back of the tongue. Press down gently on the tongue and move the scraper forward while maintaining moderate pressure. Clear any debris on the tongue scraper under warm running water. Repeat two to five more times as necessary to achieve a good clean. Rinse your mouth when you’re finished.
Many people find it more convenient to clean their tongues with their toothbrush instead of purchasing a separate tool. While a toothbrush may be less effective at cleaning the tongue compared to a tongue scraper, you may find it easier to use.
To clean your tongue with a toothbrush, stick out your tongue as far as you can and position the toothbrush at the very back. Start to lightly brush forward and backward along the length of the tongue. Spit out any saliva that may have accumulated while you were brushing and clean your toothbrush with warm water. Ideally, you’ll want to clean your tongue each time you brush your teeth.
The use of mouthwash is the least effective method for cleaning your tongue but can help when other options are not available. Consider swishing with a therapeutic mouthwash that contains active ingredients designed to kill bacteria in the mouth that may cause bad breath and contribute to other oral health conditions. If you are not sure which to purchase, ask your dentist to suggest or prescribe one for you.
When using mouthwash, you’ll want to pour about 4 teaspoons (20 milliliters) into a cup. Empty the cup into your mouth and swish for at least 30 seconds. While rinsing, also gargle the mouthwash. Finally, spit the solution into the sink.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Hancock Village Dental is a family-owned and operated dental practice that offers preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental services. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today at 352-989-5815 or send us a message online.