You pride yourself on your diligence when it comes to your oral hygiene routine. You’re sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss because you know the importance of your dental health. Somehow though, you notice that you have bad breath within hours of brushing your teeth. How can that be? Your tongue may be more vital to your oral health than you think. Read on to find out the best way to clean your tongue and get rid of bad breath, straight from an experienced dentist.
Why is Cleaning Your Tongue Important?
Your tongue is a group of muscles that have specific jobs. It helps you do important tasks like speak, chew, and swallow. Because everything you eat comes into contact with your tongue first, it makes it a bacterial breeding ground littered with food debris when it’s not cleaned properly.
The surface of your tongue has small bumps that are called papillae. They pick up leftover dead skin cells and food particles. When those are leftover to reproduce and aren’t removed from your tongue, they can cause problems like bad breath and white discoloration. Bacteria and food debris can also get stuck to your teeth and gums, causing plaque and tartar buildup. This increases your risk of developing oral problems like tooth decay
How Do You Clean Your Tongue?
There are two ways you can clean your tongue: by using a scraper, or with a toothbrush. When you use a brush, all you need to do is gently scrub your tongue starting at the back and moving forward. It’s best to do this while the brush is wet and has a small amount of toothpaste leftover on it. After you brush your teeth, be sure to spit out and rinse the excess toothpaste out of your mouth so you can better access the surface of your tongue. Remember to scrub your tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth.
Using a scraper is another cleaning method you could use to improve your tongue health. They’re fairly inexpensive and can be found at most grocery and drug stores. Gilde the tool with light pressure along the surface of your tongue from the back to front, rinsing between each drag so you don’t redeposit bacteria. This takes off the top layer of mucus from your tongue along with any bacteria and food debris. Once you’re done, clean and dry your scraper and brush and floss like normal. It’s important to include cleaning your tongue into your daily oral health routine because bacteria buildup on the surface of your mouth can happen quickly.
What if Cleaning Your Tongue is Uncomfortable?
If you notice that you have a sore in your mouth, it’s best to not clean your tongue until it has healed so you don’t irritate it or cause more damage. Also, if you have a sensitive gag reflex, try to make slow and gentle movements until you get used to the feel. Sticking your tongue out all the way can help to stifle your reflex. Cleaning your tongue too aggressively can cause it to become sore or inflamed, so be sure to use light pressure.
Removing bacteria and food debris from your tongue can not only help prevent bad breath, but it can also help you avoid run-ins with tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Keep your smile fresh and clean by giving a little extra attention to your tongue.
About the Author
As a member of The American Dental Association and The State of California Dental Association, Dr. Megan Shelton focuses on remaining up-to-date with current dental advancements so she can provide her patients with a high quality of care. She is certified in different treatment options such as laser dentistry and Invisalign orthodontics. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, visit her website or contact her at 760-434-9800.