Discussions about oral hygiene often focus primarily on brushing and flossing — and both of those things are certainly essential to maintaining a clean mouth. However, those cornerstones of at-home oral care aren’t enough by themselves to keep your mouth as fresh and healthy as possible. You also need to clean your tongue. In this blog, your dentist in Colorado Springs discusses how and why and how you should do so.
Why You Should Clean Your Tongue
There are two important reasons why you should clean your tongue:
Failing to clean your tongue can increase the chances of tooth decay. Just like bacteria and food particles accumulate on your teeth, they also build up on your tongue. If you do not take the time to rid your tongue of these substances, your tongue’s movement can deposit the bacteria and food particles back onto your teeth, thus increasing your chances of dental decay.
Failing to clean your tongue can lead to bad breath. Countless tiny bumps, called papillae, cover the tongue. The grooves between the papillae can easily collect food particles, bacteria, and even dead skin cells. Then, a layer of mucous covers those accumulations and traps them on the tongue’s surface. Therefore, you may find that if you do not clean your tongue, it can turn white and start to emit a foul odor that is unpleasant both for you and the people around you.
How to Clean Your Tongue
Cleaning your tongue is easy. After you finish brushing your teeth and spit out excess toothpaste, but before you rinse off your toothbrush, gently pass the brush over your tongue. Start at the back and move your way forward. You should also gently scrub your cheeks and the roof of your mouth to achieve an overall clean.
You might also choose to use a tongue scraper, a small oral hygiene device that you can purchase at practically any pharmacy. To use the tongue scraper, stick out your tongue and place the scraper toward the back of it. Then, apply slight pressure to the scraper and move it forward toward the tip of your tongue. Rinse the scraper and repeat the process on the sides of your tongue.
If you gag or find that cleaning your tongue is painful, you may be applying too much pressure. If your tongue is sore after you clean it, let it recover for a few days before you try again — with a much gentler approach.
Do you still have questions about how or why to clean your tongue? Schedule a checkup and cleaning with your family dentist. They’ll give you all the guidance you need to establish a healthy, effective at-home oral hygiene routine.
About the Author
Dr. Erick Anderson is a Colorado Springs native who provides compassionate, skilled general dentistry to families in our community. If you would like to learn how Dr. Anderson and his staff can help you to achieve and maintain a healthy, fresh smile, contact our team today at 719-593-0988.