You’ve probably been hearing about the importance of brushing and flossing since you were little, but how often have you heard about your tongue? Probably not often enough. Many people neglect tongue cleaning when it comes to oral hygiene, and this could lead to trouble down the line. Your dentist may have some advice on why cleaning your tongue is important and how this often-forgotten task can be done properly.
Is a Clean Tongue Really Important?
Your tongue is moist, warm, stays in a dark environment most of the time, and often has bits of leftover food on it. In other words, it’s a great place for bacteria to build up, especially when they get caught in the bumps and are sealed in by a layer of mucus. This can be a cause of bad breath and discoloration on your tongue; it can also lead to your sense of taste being muted.
There can be serious health consequences as well. More bacteria on your tongue means more bacteria that can be unintentionally transferred to your teeth and gums. This increases the risk of plaque and tartar buildup even if you’re careful about brushing and flossing. To avoid this, you’ll want to add “tongue-cleaning” to your daily oral care.
How Often Does Your Tongue Need to Be Cleaned?
Your tongue should receive the same attention as your teeth and gums; in other words, it should be cleaned every day. This should be done at the same time as regular brushing.
How Do I Properly Clean My Tongue?
You can use a tongue scraper from your local drug store to gently remove the mucus on your tongue, thus also removing any bacteria or food particles trapped underneath. The best method would be to place it in the back of your mouth and slide it to the front so as to avoid accidentally swallowing bacteria. Do this a few times to cover the whole tongue, and make sure to rinse between scrapes. Don’t press too hard; only a very light amount of pressure is necessary. Clean the scraper thoroughly when you’re done.
Alternatively, you can just use your toothbrush. You can do it after spitting out excess toothpaste while brushing but before rinsing; that way, your mouth and brush will have a bit of toothpaste to help with cleaning. Scrub from back to front; you’ll want to be sure to get the inside of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth as well.
Your tongue is just as much a part of your body as your teeth are and needs attention to remain healthy. Once you choose a cleaning method, stick to it until it becomes a habit. And remember, it’s never too late – or too early – to speak with your dentist about ways you can keep your mouth clean and healthy!
About the Practice
At Darby Creek Dental, Drs. David Cleveland, Deric Budendorf and Kyle Wylde each bring a wide range of skills and experience that lets them comprehensively treat patients of all ages. They offer a variety of treatments in addition to regular preventive checkups, including sleep apnea treatment, cosmetic dentistry, comprehensive oral hygiene, Invisalign, TMJ relief and more. To set an appointment to ask about oral health concerns, visit their website or call (937) 644-8822.