You already knew that brushing and flossing your teeth every day is important. But did you know that your tongue needs regular care as well? It’s true. Here are some tips from a dentist about caring for this important part of your body.
What You Should Know about Your Tongue
Most people think that the tongue is simply a muscle. In reality, it’s a group of muscles joined with millions of taste buds and sheathed in special skin tissues called mucosa. All of these parts work together to make a variety of essential bodily functions possible. These include:
- Helping you to not only digest, but also to enjoy your food. Think of this the next time you eat your favorite snack.
- Helping you speak. The tongue makes it possible for us to create the rich array of sounds involved with human languages.
- Possibly saving your life. Without the tongue, you would have to cut your food into tiny portions and chew slowly and carefully to avoid clogging your windpipe. Eating a meal would be a risky proposition indeed.
As you can see, the tongue plays a lot of important roles. Here’s how you can return the favor.
Tongue Care Tips
The most essential part of caring for your tongue is keeping it clean. You can do this with your regular toothbrush or, if you prefer, a specially-made tongue cleaner, which you’ll find it most drugstores. Here’s how to use each option:
- Using a toothbrush. Start with a small quantity of toothpaste and scrub your tongue from the back to the tip with gentle strokes. Take care to not scrub too hard, otherwise you may irritate the delicate skin tissues inside your mouth.
- Using a tongue scraper or cleaner. Gently scrape the top layer of mucus from your tongue, rinsing the instrument after each stroke. Repeat until your tongue is clean.
Afterwards, use a name-brand mouthwash or dental rinse as a finishing touch. Swish the liquid around for several seconds to get the maximum benefits before disposing of it.
Does dental rinse irritate your mouth? You might want to try one of the many alcohol-free formulas on the market. Your dentist may recommend a brand.
You should also know the typical warning signs that come with tongue-related problems. These can include:
- A yucky white coating across the top of your tongue. This is usually caused by a buildup of yeast in your mouth, which sometimes occurs after using antibiotics.
- A red, sore, irritated tongue. This is a common symptom of strep throat and other infectious diseases.
- A burning or prickly sensation inside your tongue. This can be caused by a variety of nerve -related conditions.
- A bluish or purplish coloring on your tongue. This is a warning sign of serious circulatory problems. Get medical help right away.
- A web-or stripe-shaped pattern on your tongue. This is often caused by Oral Lichen Planus (OLP), a disorder that affects the mouth’s mucous membranes.
The tongue is an important part of your body. So give it the care it deserves by following the tips in this post. The benefits you’ll enjoy will make the small amount of time and effort more than worthwhile.
About the Author
Dr. Megan Shelton is proud to call the Carlsbad area her home. When not practicing dentistry, she enjoys photography, performing volunteer work, and spending time with her husband Nick. You can reach her office online or by calling (760) 434-9800.