You may sometimes notice your breath still smells bad even though you follow a strict daily dental routine. It could be because you and your toothbrush aren’t paying enough attention to your tongue. Every time you pop a handful of candies into your mouth, you’re feeding the oral bacteria on your tongue which could be contributing to your bad breath. It’s a good thing your dentist is able to provide you facts and tips on how to keep this part of the mouth healthy and stink-free.
Your Tongue and Bacteria
Your tongue is an incredible group of muscles that takes on so many tasks a day. It affects your taste, speech and chewing. With so many things to do, bacteria buildup in this area is quick and easy. Similar to how your teeth collect tartar, plaque and bacteria, the tiny bumps on your tongue collect bacteria, food and dead skin cells.
When food and bacteria get trapped on your tongue, it can cause halitosis or bad breath. Sometimes, it can even have a white discolored look to it. For even more reasons to clean your tongue, that bacteria can travel to other places in your mouth and create problems like cavities and infections.
Two Ways of Cleaning Your Tongue
It’s clearly important to keep your tongue clean—but what are the best ways to do it? There are two ways to clean your tongue: by brushing or using a scraper. After you brush your teeth, it’s a good idea to spend some time focusing on your tongue, cheeks and the roof of your mouth. Some toothbrushes even offer a scraper on the back.
To clean your tongue by brushing, it’s a good idea to rinse your brush after you finish cleaning your teeth. Once you do that, put a small bit of toothpaste on the brush and, without pressing too hard, brush the entire surface of your tongue — it’s best to start in the back and brush forward towards the tip. After you’re through, rinse your mouth and your toothbrush with lukewarm water.
The other way to clean your tongue is by using a scraper. If you don’t have one on the back of your toothbrush, you can easily get one at almost any drugstore. Your tongue scraper is designed to take off the layer of mucus and bacteria on your tongue. To clean with your scraper, slice it down your tongue from the back to the front. After each scrape, rinse your scraper off in lukewarm water and repeat. It’s important to rinse between every scrape so you don’t accidentally ingest the bacteria you’re trying to remove.
How Often Should I Clean My Tongue?
Like most preventive dental routines like brushing your teeth and flossing, it’s important to clean your tongue twice a day. If your tongue becomes sore or starts to bleed, you’re pressing too hard and you should clean softer. If your mouth becomes too dry, rinsing with mouthwash can add a bit of moisture and will also help to kill bacteria.
Scheduling regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist will help prevent bacteria from building up and is also an essential preventive routine to keep your oral health in check. Your dentist can also provide you with more tips to keep your tongue free of food debris and bacteria and your breath smelling good.
About the Author
Drs. Neil Flenniken and Suzan Rismani-Flenniken offer the community of Vienna high quality preventive dental care. With decades of experience, Monarch Dentistry can provide you with everything from regular checkups and cleanings to sleep apnea treatment. For any questions about your daily dental routine or to schedule an appointment, visit their website or contact them at (703) 714-7374. Ta