You know it’s important to brush your teeth, but did you know that it’s also necessary to brush your tongue? The human mouth is home to more than 70 types of good and bad bacteria and an overgrowth of the bad bacteria can lead to foul smelling breath.
Dental professionals are seeing an increase in patients who brush their tongues with tongue scrapers. Tongue scrapers, or tongue brushes, are designed specifically to clean the surface of your tongue. By removing the surface level of particles that contain bad bacteria, these tools help freshen breath, along with providing other oral health benefits.
Why You Should Clean Your Tongue
Your tongue, along with your teeth and gums, should be cleaned every day for a variety of reasons. Rather than simply being a flat surface as most people envision it, the tongue is actually closer in anatomy to a carpet, with lots of little raised nubs, we refer to as taste buds. While they do a great job of tasting the foods you love, they’re also the perfect home for the type of bacteria that causes bad breath. If you smoke, drink alcohol or coffee, or suffer from frequent dry mouth, you should also be aware that these can inhibit your natural bacteria-fighting saliva.
When you brush or scrape your tongue, you’re removing things that shouldn’t be on the surface to prevent bacteria growth. Acidic foods and small food particles have the tendency to stick to your tongue, which can cause bad breath. Cleaning your tongue can be a great way to go the extra mile for your mouth, but comes down to personal preference and is not a necessary step in oral hygiene – like brushing and flossing. It is important to note that if you do use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to clean your tongue, you should always do so gently to avoid irritation or injury.
What Are Tongue Scrapers?
Tongue scrapers can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and work by removing the top most layer of the tongue that is home to food particles, bacteria, and other forms of build up. By starting at the back of the tongue and pulling the scraper forward, you will effectively remove this layer. While you can also clean your tongue by gently scraping your tongue with your toothbrush, a tongue scraper is specifically designed with the texture and shape of your tongue in mind.
You can find tongue scrapers or brushes online or in most grocery stores for between $5 to $20 dollars. These scrapers are reusable, as long as you properly disinfect them after each use. You can also speak with your dentist at your next cleaning to talk about tongue scraper recommendations.
Benefits of Cleaning Your Tongue
Decrease Bacteria – Your tongue can quickly become residence to millions of bacteria colonies as you breath, eat, and even sleep. The longer these types of bacteria sit on your tongue, the higher your chances of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, and oral thrush are. By using a tongue scraper to clean your tongue, you can decrease the number of bad bacteria colonies on your tongue.
Better Smelling Breath – Bad breath can be caused by many factors, including an imbalance of good and bad bacteria on the tongue. By decreasing the amount of bad bacteria on your tongue, you will experience better smelling breath.
Increased Visibility – Your tongue is an important diagnostic tool for your overall health, and changes in texture and color can mean the presence of certain diseases or vitamin deficiencies. When you use a tongue scraper or brush to clean your tongue, you’re gently removing the top most layer of the tongue. By making cleaning your tongue part of your daily oral health routine, you’ll be able to identify unexpected changes like white patches on the surface of the tongue or an unusually bright red color, both of which can be signs of certain diseases.
Increased Taste – The taste buds on your tongue keep us enjoying our favorite foods and drinks. When you clean your tongue, you are releasing old food particles, and tastes, from the surface of your tongue. By keeping your palette fresh, you can experience an increased sense of taste.
Using tongue scrapers as a part of your dental hygiene routine is a relatively new concept. Whether you choose to clean your tongue with a scraper, your toothbrush, or to use an antiseptic mouthwash is your choice to make. Visiting your dentist twice a year for a teeth cleaning, along with brushing and flossing twice a day is the bare minimum recommendation for optimal oral health. However, dental professionals recognize that cleaning your tongue is just another way to keep your mouth fresh, and your smile bright.
Triangle Dentistry located in Raleigh, NC provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns and implants to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3592.