You’re pretty confident in your oral hygiene routine — you brush and floss twice a day without fail. So why do you still struggle with bad breath? You may be neglecting your tongue. Overlooking this step in your cleaning routine is a common but serious mistake. In this post, your dentist explains why you should care about tongue hygiene and how to properly do it.
Why Do I Need to Clean My Tongue?
Tongue cleaning is a necessary preventive measure to maintain your oral health. Your tongue helps you do everything from eating to talking to singing in the shower. This group of unique muscles works closely with your teeth but doesn’t receive the same attention when it comes to cleaning. However, your tongue is constantly collecting bacteria, food particles and dead skin cells. This buildup can cause a host of issues, including bad breath, tooth decay, plaque and mouth discoloration.
How Do I Clean My Tongue?
There are two simple ways to clean your tongue — one can even be done with no additional purchase. Just like your teeth, you should clean your tongue daily. You can use one or both of the following techniques:
After brushing your teeth, gently scrub your tongue with a moistened toothbrush (before you rinse the toothpaste off) from back to front. Make sure to also brush the sides of your tongue before moving on to the inside of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth.
A tongue scraper can be used as an alternative or additional cleaning method. You can find this inexpensive device at your local drug store. Tongue scrapers are designed to remove the layer of mucus, bacteria and debris from the surface of your tongue. Just like with a toothbrush, gently but firmly move the scraper from the back of your tongue to the front. Rinse the scraper between each swipe and make sure to thoroughly clean and dry it after use.
What If It’s Uncomfortable?
If you experience discomfort from brushing or scraping your tongue, you might be applying too much pressure. Give your tongue a break for a couple of days to let the delicate skin restore itself. Alternating between cleaning methods may also help. If you have a wound or sore in your mouth, avoid cleaning the surrounding area to prevent irritation and further damage.
Cleaning your tongue is just as important as cleaning your teeth, and with a little practice, it can become a natural part of your daily oral hygiene! Ask your dentist if you have any other questions about tongue cleaning or would like more tips on how to keep your entire mouth feeling great.
About the Author
Dr. Karl Arakelian has almost 30 years of dental experience. He has completed over a thousand hours of continuing education courses to provide his patients with the most up-to-date care possible. Dr. Arakelian is a member of the Massachusetts Dental Association. If you have further questions about tongue cleaning, he can be contacted through his website or at 978-373-0901.