When it comes to good oral health, tongue cleaning is often overlooked. Brushing and flossing are key to keeping your teeth strong and healthy, but even with regular brushing and flossing, your breath can suffer. This is because odor-producing bacteria can grow on the tongue, leading to problems like chronic bad breath. Tongue cleaning is a fast and efficient way to remove food particles, bacteria, and other debris from the surface of the tongue.
Benefits of Scraping Your Tongue
Using a tongue scraper or toothbrush to clean the surface of your tongue can remove the buildup of bacteria, food, and debris that accumulates over time.
Tongue cleaning can lead to a wide range of benefits such as an improved sense of taste. A cleaner tongue allows a person to better differentiate between different tastes like salty, sweet, bitter, and sour.
Scraping your tongue can also remove harmful bacteria from the tongue. According to a study published in Tropical Dental Journal, using a tongue scraper at least two times per day for a week reduced the incidence of Lactobacilli bacteria and Mutans streptococci in the mouth. Both forms of bacteria are known to cause bad breath and tooth decay.
Tongue cleaning can even improve the appearance of the tongue. When the tongue has a buildup of debris, it can take on a white, coated appearance. Regular scraping of the tongue helps remove this unsightly coating and prevents it from returning.
People who clean their tongue daily can enjoy overall better health. Each time you scrape or brush your tongue, you’re removing harmful bacteria that can contribute to gum disease, cavities, and other oral health conditions.
How to Properly Clean Your Tongue
Tongue cleaning requires just a couple of basic tools and a few minutes of your time. You can find tongue scrapers made from plastic, stainless steel, or copper materials at all price points. Most feature a slightly rounded shape that appears similar to an inverted spoon. A toothbrush can also be used to clean your tongue if a scraper is not available.
To perform a tongue cleaning at home, follow these basic steps:
1. While standing in front of a mirror, open your mouth and stick out your tongue.
2. Place the rounded edge of the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue. If you experience gagging, you can move the tongue scraper to the middle of the tongue until you get used to the sensation.
3. Gently pull the scraper along the tongue towards the tip. Never start at the tip of the tongue and move backward as this pushes bacteria towards your throat where it may be accidentally consumed.
4. After each scrape of the tongue, using a clean washcloth or tissue to remove the debris from the scraper.
5. Continue scraping the tongue until the entire surface has been cleaned. It generally only takes one to two scrapes per section of the tongue to achieve a sufficient clean.
6. Thoroughly wash the tongue scraper using warm water and soap. Dry the scraper and store it in a clean, dry place until it’s needed again.
When cleaning your tongue, you want to avoid brushing or scraping too hard or for too long. Your tongue is sensitive and aggressive cleaning may cause irritation or soreness. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure to achieve a good clean. If your tongue does become irritated, give it time to heal before using the scraper again. If the problem does not resolve on its own, talk to our experts at Bonham Dental Arts and share your concerns.
Schedule a Visit with Your Dentist in Largo, FL
Good dental health and wellness begin at home. Teeth brushing, combined with flossing, the use of mouthwash, and tongue cleaning, all help to keep the mouth healthy, clean, and odor-free. If you’re not sure how to properly clean your tongue, ask your dentist to show you at your next routine examination.
For more information about tongue cleaning or to schedule a visit with an experienced Largo, FL dentist, contact the dental team at Bonham Dental Arts.