Don't Forget Your Tongue In Your Dental Care

Posted on: 25 June 2015

Your tongue collects and holds bacteria that cause cavities and bad breath. You may brush and floss every day and still have dental problems. Add cleaning your tongue to your dental hygiene habits to do a complete job of protecting your teeth and gums and preventing bad breath.

Your Tongue is Home to Bacteria

The surface of your tongue contains small bumps called papillae. These bumps let your tongue hold onto food and help with your sense of taste. These bumps, and the folds in your tongue, also provide a home for bacteria in the mouth.

These are the same bacteria that cause plaque on your teeth, gum disease and bad breath. Brushing and flossing remove bacteria from your teeth and gums, but you're leaving the bacteria on the tongue untouched. A thorough cleaning of your tongue, after brushing and flossing, rids your mouth of as many bacteria as possible.

Getting Your Tongue Clean

The two ways of cleaning your tongue are brushing and scraping. Both are effective, and the one you choose should be the one that you'll do consistently as part of your dental hygiene. You'll want to try both to see which one you prefer.

Brushing - During or after your teeth brushing, brush the top and sides (but not the underside) of your tongue for a few seconds. Reach as far back as you can on your tongue. You may find it difficult to brush the back of your tongue if your gag reflex kicks in. If this is a problem, then try the tongue scraping technique.

Scraping - Ask a professional dentist, like those at Aurora Dental Clinic, to recommend a good tongue scraper. This is a plastic or metal device with a flat surface that you'll use to pull saliva and bacteria from your tongue. Put the scraper on the back of your tongue, push down gently and drag it across the surface toward the front. Rinse your mouth and repeat this several times, getting the top surface and sides of your tongue. If your tongue has a white or brown coating on it, don't try to scrape this off or you'll irritate your tongue. The coating is from food, such as dairy products, or smoking, and will wear off throughout the day.

Brushing, flossing and cleaning your tongue is a complete dental hygiene habit that protects you from tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. If you forget your tongue, you're leaving out a third of the preventative measures for good dental health.