You likely know the importance of brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once. However, did you know it’s also important to regularly clean your tongue?
Why (and How) to Keep Your Tongue Clean
Here are several reasons why you need to brush your tongue, as well as how to go about it.
Your tongue’s bumpy, uneven surface is a perfect hiding place for millions of bacteria. These bacteria can quickly multiply and cause many kinds of problems.
Simply rinsing with water or mouthwash isn’t enough, either. Why? Because a group of dead skin cells, bacteria, and leftover food particles will come together to form a biofilm. Rinsing only removes the outer cells of this biofilm. The cells under the surface are still intact and can cause oral health problems like bad breath and tooth decay.
So what should you do? The best way to clean is to use a small amount of toothpaste and brush back-to-front and side-to-side, then rinse with water. Apply light pressure so as not to irritate your tongue. If your tongue becomes sore or begins bleeding, that’s a sign you’re using too much pressure.
It’s fine to use a tongue scraper, which is made of soft, flexible plastic that gently peels the layer of biofilm from the tongue. However, the American Dental Association reports no better results over a regular toothbrush. Some toothbrushes may come with a built-in tongue cleaner on the back, and you may prefer them to a regular toothbrush.
Problems That May Arise from an Unclean Tongue
Duller sense of taste
That pesky biofilm can cover up your taste buds and dull your senses. Cleaning your tongue will help restore your sense of taste once again.
If you have an overgrowth of bacteria on your tongue, it will give off a foul-smelling odor. These bacteria tend to congregate on the back of the tongue, so be sure to focus your cleaning efforts there.
Has your tongue ever turned colors after drinking wine, coffee, or eating candy? That’s because the bacteria on your tongue are holding the color. Simply brush it away and the color will disappear, along with the bacteria.
The condition known as thrush happens when the bacteria levels get too high, thus inviting a yeast infection in your mouth. This can cause your tongue to look white. Your dentist can give you an antibiotic to clear up the problem.
If the bacteria on your tongue spread to your teeth, gingivitis may develop and cause inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease, which may cause tooth loss and even more serious problems like heart disease and stroke.
If you have dry mouth, bad breath, or a lingering foul taste, try cleaning your tongue to see if that resolves the problem. A mouthwash can kill even more bacteria that contribute to these problems.
If you are cleaning your tongue and brushing teeth regularly, yet still experiencing bad breath, consult with a knowledgeable Florida dentist to see if other problems may exist. They can evaluate you for tooth decay, infections, or possible serious diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Make sure to make regular appointments with your dentist to rule out any oral health problems. They will check your tongue for any problems and help you keep your teeth, gums, and tongue in the best health.