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Why and how should you clean your tongue?

Did you know that brushing twice and flossing every day is not enough for maintaining good oral health?

This is because our tongue’s health is important and also needs cleaning to remove the bacteria which resides on the surface.

Why should you clean your tongue?

The tongue builds up bacteria just like your teeth and gums. The structure is made from tiny bumps known as papillae which have small grooves between each one, where bacteria, food particles and dead skin cells can build up.

This buildup forms a layer of mucus over the tongue, which can be seen as the whitish discolouration.

The bacteria in the mucus produces sulfur compounds, which gives off that foul smelling smell, which is important to clean off.

Over time if you do not clean your tongue, it will begin impacting the rest of your mouth, especially the health of your teeth and gums.

Make sure to clean your tongue when you brush your teeth.

The top reasons for cleaning include:

1.    Removal of bacteria:

Removing the bacteria from the tongue is important as this can cause other issues. The bacteria if left gets deposited over to the teeth and gums, which increases the chances of plaque buildup and dental issues.

Removing the bacteria is also important in protecting yourself from gum disease, as not cleaning your tongue increases chances of gum infections.

2.    Reduces plaque:

Regularly cleaning the tongue reduces the plaque levels inside your mouth, which helps reduce tooth and gum damage.

3.    Better taste:

Cleaning your tongue also allows you to have better taste reception, as there is not mucus blocking the taste buds causing a slight loss of taste.

4.    Stop bad breath:

Poor tongue hygiene creates germs and sulfur compounds that smell horrible, causing bad breath. Cleaning your tongue helps to remove these compounds.

How should you clean your tongue?

There are a few ways in which we recommended you clean your tongue.

Tongue scrapers:

The most effective way to clean your tongue is by using a scraper. The scrapers can be plastic or metal and are easy to use.

Scrapers are easy to use, by following these steps:

  1. Stick your tongue out
  2. Place the scraper towards the back of your tongue
  3. Apply pressure down onto the tongue as you move the scraper forwards
  4. Rinse under warm water to remove debris
  5. Repeat several times

Toothbrush cleaning:

This method is less effective; however, it is still a good solution.

Follow these steps:

  1. Get a soft-bristle toothbrush (also better for teeth cleaning)
  2. Stick your tongue out
  3. Place toothbrush towards the back of your tongue
  4. Brush forwards and backwards lightly
  5. Spit out the saliva that forms during brushing

Mouthwash cleaning:

Combining a mouthwash with brushing your teeth can further clean your tongue by killing bad bacteria and freshening your breath.

Should you see a professional?

If you clean your tongue but notice unusual spots or patches that do not go away, it is best to visit a professional for an examination.

If you have any of the following concerns, or another, we recommend seeing a professional

  • White patches (oral thrush, oral cancer, leukoplakia and oral lichen planus)
  • Glossy or smooth
  • Sores or lumps which do not resolve
  • Severe burns
  • Yellow, black or hairy
  • Very red or pink patches

The team at South East Orthodontics thinks it’s just as important to take care of your general oral health as it is to maintain a straight, healthy smile. If you would like to complement your general oral health with orthodontics, book a consultation with us today by clicking here!