Your tongue has more of an impact on your oral health than you may think. Have you noticed that despite brushing and flossing every day, your breath still smells bad? It’s an embarrassing problem that can cause you to be self-conscious and avoid social situations. It’s not necessarily that your technique is flawed, but it could be that you’re not spending enough attention to your tongue. Read on to find out why your dentist recommends taking special care of your tongue.
Oral Health And Your Tongue
Your tongue takes up quite a bit of space in your mouth and helps you complete daily functions like eating and speaking. Because you use it so often, you probably don’t give it a second thought. It’s the first thing that comes into contact with the food you eat, and it allows you to taste and break it down so it’s digestible. This means it’s constantly exposed to bacteria and food debris and when it’s not cleaned properly, could detrimentally impacts your oral health.
The Purpose Of Cleaning Your Tongue
When bacteria are left to accumulate on your tongue, it can affect your entire mouth and cause plaque and tartar buildup along with a host of oral health problems such as cavities, infections, and dental decay. Your tongue’s surface has small bumps called papillae on it that traps food debris, dead skin cells, and harmful oral bacteria. When left uncleaned, these begin to break down, feed the bacteria, and cause them to release noxious odors or gases via your breath.
Properly Cleaning Your Tongue
So, you’re probably wondering how you can take the best care of your tongue to protect your oral health. There are a couple of ways to properly clear your tongue of any food debris and bacteria—you can either brush or floss.
If you prefer brushing over using a scraper, be sure to gently move it back and forth and front to back over your tongue. The best way to do this is right after you’ve cleaned your teeth and there’s still toothpaste and moisture in your mouth. Remember, don’t forget to clean your cheeks and the roof of your mouth as well before rinsing so your whole mouth can enjoy the benefits of a nice deep clean.
You can get a tongue scraper at most corner drug stores. They’re specially designed to gently move across your tongue and remove mucus as well as trapped food particles and harmful bacteria. While your tongue is sticking out, gently glide the device down your it toward the tip. Rinse the scraper to avoid redepositing bacteria in your mouth, and repeat the process until the whole surface of your tongue is cleaned.
Cleaning your tongue is an important step to include in your daily oral hygiene routine. Bacteria and plaque buildup almost immediately after brushing and flossing, so this is an important step to take to keep oral health problems at bay. If you have any questions about cleaning your tongue or suffer from bad breath, speak to your dentist at your next checkup and cleaning to see if they have additional recommendations!
About the Author
Dr. Drew Vanderbrook is passionate about making each of his patients feel comfortable and well-cared for. As an active member of multiple professional organizations and an elected member of the Board of Directors for Dallas County Dental Society, he keeps up with the latest advancements in technology and treatments in his field. He regularly takes continuing education courses so he can give his patients the highest quality of care that they deserve. For questions about bad breath or to schedule a routine checkup or cleaning, visit Vanderbrook Family Dentistry’s website or contact 214-821-5200.