So, let’s say you’ve carefully brushed your teeth with toothpaste for at least two minutes, flossed between each and every one, and swished with antibacterial mouthwash- you’re all done, right? Perhaps not. While it is crucial to clean your teeth and gums, it’s also important to scrub your tongue! Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our team are constantly learning new techniques to help our patients safeguard their smiles. Taking care of your tongue hygiene can take just seconds, but it could benefit your breath, gum health, and more. In the following blog, we explain why scrubbing your tongue is so significant and provide a step-by-step guide to properly clean it.
Why The Tongue?
Your tongue is actually quite a crucial organ in your oral health. 123 Dentist describes, “The tongue is a major feature of the mouth and makes it possible for us to eat and articulate our speech…it is such an integral part of our lives, used constantly every day, and yet most of he time we fail to give it a second thought.” Most people think oral hygiene is all about the teeth, but the tongue is also deserving of attention. 123 Dentist goes on: “Just like bacteria builds up on and in between your teeth, hardening into plaque and tartar if not removed, bacteria also builds up on your tongue.” The tongue can become a bacterial breeding ground, increasing your risk for other issues, and, if infected, it can cause halitosis.
Another aspect of your tongue you may not be aware of is that it is uniquely suited to harbor bacteria. As 123 Dentistexplains, “The surface of your tongue is covered in tiny bumps called papillae, and within the grooves of these bumps collect bacteria, dead skin cells, and food particles.” Furthermore, it’s “covered by a thin layer of mucus,” trapping this debris and allowing it to rot. The tongue could be the key to your dental health, especially if you’re suffering from persistent halitosis or constant cavities even though you’re diligent with your dental care. 123 Dentist notes, “The bacteria on the tongue can redeposit onto teeth and gums, even after they’ve been cleaned, increasing the likelihood of plaque and tartar buildup.”
A Hygiene How-To
Now that you’re all set to scrub your tongue, how exactly are you supposed to do it? We suggest that you:
- Brush and floss your teeth, then…
- Use your toothbrush head and a bit of toothpaste to scrub every inch of your tongue’s surface. Colgate Oral Care Center recommends, “Start by reaching the back of the tongue, and then work forward toward the opening of the mouth. Brush the entire top surface of the tongue using gentle pressure.” Next…
- Rinse your mouth out thoroughly to capture and spit out every speck of bacteria and particulate matter you’ve just worked out. Then, for an extra (optional) scrubbing…
- Take out your tongue scraper—a plastic tool you should be able to find at your local drugstore or order online. Colgate Oral Care Center explains that this instrument “gently peels the thin mucus-based layer of debris from the tongue. Rinse the scraper under warm water after each swipe of the tongue.”
- Rinse again with water or (preferably) mouthwash, and voila! You’re done.
You should follow this routine at least twice per day (more often if you have a persistent film over your tongue or constant halitosis). Throughout this tongue-cleaning regimen, remember not to scrub or scrape so aggressively that you injure your tongue. We can provide more advice and demonstration at your biannual preventive care appointments! If you haven’t seen us in six months, it’s time to come in.
Do You Want More Tongue Tips?
Dr. Flanagan and our team are ready to help you clean your tongue, teeth, gums, and any other part of your mouth so you can enjoy a sparkling, healthy smile! Contact our Houston dental practice today to find out more and schedule your appointment.