It’s more likely than not that you already know to keep your teeth and mouth healthy you should be brushing them twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting the dentist for regular professional cleanings. However, how often do you remember to clean your tongue during your oral hygiene routine?
Why Your Tongue Needs To Be Brushed
Brushing your tongue daily is an essential part of having excellent oral hygiene. There are over 700 species of bacteria that live in your mouth. Because of the bumps and crevices on your tongue, a lot of these bacteria can easily stick to the surface of your tongue. Not all of these microbes are harmful, but the ones that are can have a damaging effect on your oral health and leave you with some unpleasant side effects.
Halitosis (Bad Breath)
Bad breath is the number one problem associated with not regularly brushing your tongue. Think of your tongue as a sponge, spreading bad bacteria throughout the mouth. Anyone who has kept a kitchen sponge for a little too long can verify that an overgrowth of bacteria can give off a foul odor, and your tongue is no exception. Brushing your tongue removes bacteria, food debris, and fungi from the surface of your tongue, which are all top contributors to bad breath.
Yeast Infections In Your Mouth
Medically referred to as oral thrush, an oral yeast infection can happen when bacteria levels in your mouth become imbalanced. An antifungal medication is often required to clear a yeast infection in your mouth, and brushing your tongue regularly will keep it from returning.
A buildup of bacteria in the mouth leads to an accumulation of plaque. Plaque is the number one cause of many dental problems, including periodontal disease. Keeping your entire mouth clean and free of bacteria will help to remove bacteria that could otherwise get caught in your gums, causing gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to gum disease and other serious oral health issues such as tooth loss.
Dulled Taste Buds
By clearing all of the bacteria and residue from your tongue, you can fully expose your taste buds. Not only will this improve your ability to taste, but it will also help you to enjoy food and drinks more by being able to appreciate their full flavors.
A Black Hairy Tongue
You read that correctly. A black hairy tongue is a condition that arises when the papillae on your tongue get stained from leftover food or drink particles, such as coffee. If these particles are never brushed away, it gives the entire tongue a dark and furry appearance. Other than being extremely unappealing, a black hairy tongue is relatively harmless and should begin to disappear once you start brushing your tongue regularly.
Scraping Your Tongue To Keep It Clean
Using a plastic or metal tongue scraper is an easy and inexpensive way to clean your tongue effectively. When using a tongue scraper:
- Scrape from the root of the tongue to the tip
- Rinse the tongue scraper with water between scrapes
- Be gentle and take care when scraping the back of your tongue
- Rinse your mouth out with mouthwash after to eliminate any left-behind bacteria
While it’s perfectly fine to use a tongue scraper, all you need to clean your tongue is a plain-old toothbrush. Brushing or scraping your tongue is an excellent addition to your daily oral hygiene routine. Ask Premier Dentistry about other ways to keep your mouth clean and healthy at your next exam.