Your Cincinnati dentist tells you to brush your teeth every chance they get. (Yes, we know we sound like a broken record!) But should you be brushing your tongue too?
Probably. Your tongue is loaded with bacteria. The surface of your tongue is layered in tiny bumps called papillae. These crevices are little pockets that collect bacteria, dead skin cells, and food particles. These bacteria can redeposit on your teeth and gums, leading to plaque buildup.
Need some motivation to brush your tongue? This kind of bacteria stinks. It’s one of the biggest reasons people have bad breath. So in addition to increasing your risk of plaque and cavities, tongue bacteria literally gives you the stink mouth! Gross, right?
But I Rinse! Doesn’t That Help?
Yes, mouthwash rinses will help, but that’s just scratching the surface. While mouthwash and salt water rinses can kill bacteria on the surface, it completely misses the bacteria inside of those tongue pockets. To kill that, you need to get in there and really scrub. It’s like washing a dish. It will become a little cleaner with the sprayer, but to get completely clean you need a little elbow grease.
How Should I Brush My Tongue?
There are two methods to tongue cleaning: brushing and scraping. Gently brush your tongue with a moist toothbrush. Spit out the excess toothpaste after brushing but don’t rinse. This way you’ll still have a light layer of toothpaste on your tongue while you brush. Thoroughly brush your tongue, cheeks, and even the roof of your mouth.
You could also try a tongue scraper, available at most drug stores. These glide along your tongues surface and scrape off the mucous. Scrape from the back of your tongue towards your lip. Rinse the scraper and repeat. Be sure to clean the scraper when you’re done.
It’s a good idea to clean your tongue daily, along with regularly flossing.
A clean tongue should be bright pink. If it’s black and hairy, or white and bumpy, it probably has a lot of bacteria.
If you notice any issues that don’t go away, contact your Sharonville family dentist. There may be something more serious going on.