Do you ever notice that sometimes you have a bad breath even though you brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day? The reason is not because you use the wrong brushing or flossing technique. It may in fact be because you don’t clean your tongue properly or at all. The tongue is an important feature of the mouth that makes it possible to articulate speech and eat. We wouldn’t be able to whistle a tune, taste anything, chew, swallow or tell someone about our day without the tongue.
Just as bacteria builds up on and between teeth, and hardens into tartar or plaque if not cleaned, bacteria builds up on the tongue. The surface of the tongue is usually covered by tiny bumps known as papillae. Food particles, bacteria and dead skin cells often collect between the grooves of these bumps and with time, they are covered by a layer of mucus. Trapped between the surface of the tongue and mucus, these bacteria can lead to bad breath and discoloration of the tongue, hence the importance of cleaning it. But how should you go about it?
There are two main ways to properly clean your tongue as recommended by Dr. Andrew & Urban Smiles Family Dental i.e. scraping and brushing. The latter involves gently scrubbing the surface of your tongue back and forth with a moistened toothbrush. This can be achieved effectively by spitting out excess toothpaste after brushing your teeth but before rinsing your mouth. Scrub your tongue with your toothbrush that still has some toothpaste residue. Also scrub the cheeks as well as the roof of your mouth before rinsing to get an all round clean.
A tongue scraper offers an alternative solution to keeping your tongue clean and avoiding bad breath. It is available in many drug stores and is designed to glide along the surface of the tongue and take off the layer of mucus as well as any debris or bacteria it traps. For effective use, stick your tongue out and place the scraper at the back of the tongue and slide it down towards the tip. Rinse the scraper and repeat the process, ensuring that you move from the back to the tip to prevent accidental ingestion of the debris and bacteria. Rinse the scraper thoroughly then brush and floss your teeth once done.
Cleaning your tongue is something that should be part of your daily dental health routine. With opportunities for bacteria and food particles to build up on your tongue on a daily basis, the importance of cleaning your tongue every day cannot be stressed enough.
Urban Smiles Family Dental Staff Writer: