Benefits of a Clean Tongue: Tongue Scraping and Brushing

No oral hygiene routine is complete without also paying attention to the tongue.

We will discuss the benefits of a clean tongue and hopefully by the end of this article you will be encouraged to not exclude your tongue the next time you brush your teeth.

I highly encourage tongue cleaning. Not just for the benefits listed below, but also because it gives you a chance to inspect your tongue for any changes that may occur over time.

Know your tongue

In fact in a complete oral exam dentists do not just look at teeth. We also examine all the surfaces of your tongue. This is to ensure that there are no lesions or irregular marks which may signal certain diseases. You can do this inspection at home and become familiar with the normal, typical characteristics of your tongue.

Helps maintain fresh breath

Bacteria is found on surface of the tongue. The same bacteria I referred to in this article. These bacteria produce sulphur compounds which help to make breath smell less than fresh. By removing these bacteria through scraping you may be able to ensure that your tongue isn’t contributing to your bad breath.

May improve taste

If you’re not aware, your tongue is covered with taste buds. Unable to be seen by the naked eye, these gustatory cells are the reason along with your olfactory sense you are able to enjoy the flavor of your favorite meal.
The surface of some tongues may have deeper grooves and a more irregular surface than others.  This is why bacteria and plaque may collect more easily on the surface. The collection of bacteria, plaque and food covering the tastebuds may make you less sensitive to certain flavors.

Can reduce the quantity of plaque

As you’ve probably realized the tongue can hold plaque. The same plaque which contains bacteria that can cause cavities. Even if you brush your teeth and floss to remove plaque and plaque is still on your tongue,  you may be putting yourself at risk for periodontal disease and cavities.

How to clean your tongue

Most dentists will be happy that you are brushing your tongue whether with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper. However I’m not. A separate toothbrush or better yet tongue scraper should be used specifically for brushing the tongue.
Using the same toothbrush you use to clean off plaque from your teeth then placing it on your tongue which may have different microbial colonies, isn’t the most effective way of practicing good oral hygiene.

Some patients complain that cleaning their tongue triggers the gag reflex. There is no need to finish your oral hygiene routine with watery eyes and a sore throat.

You can start cleaning from the middle of your tongue to the tip. As you become more accustomed to the sensation you can carefully and slowly begin to clean further back, if it feels comfortable. If it’s not comfortable don’t do it.

Ensure that your tongue scraper has no irregular edges which may cause cuts to your tongue. Tongue scraping doesn’t need a lot of pressure. You do not need to sand your tongue. It is a very gentle amount of pressure which is necessary, almost no pressure.

The tongue scraper itself will do almost all of the work once it comes into contact with the surface. Remember that with every scrape of the tongue you need to wash off the tongue scraper, then scrape again. If not, you’re just putting back bacteria on the tongue. You don’t need to use toothpaste or any other substance to clean your tongue.

Are you convinced to start cleaning your tongue?

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