We are taught the importance of brushing and flossing our teeth from a very young age, but more often than not, we neglect the importance of brushing our tongues because we were never taught. At my Pasadena dental office I recently overheard a child asking their mother why it wasn’t normal to clean their tongue too when brushing their teeth. Not only did this make me realize that I needed to share more about brushing your tongue with my patients, but others as well. Cleaning your tongue should be a part of your daily routine, and here is why:
Bacteria Like to Live on Your Tongue
A certain type of bacteria called biofilm makes up a large amount of the bacteria in your mouth. Like bacteria around your teeth, biofilm contributes to creating other oral health problems for your mouth, teeth and gums. Biofilm lives on your tongue in the spaces and ridges you cannot see. Mouthwash alone will not remove these bacteria, which is why it’s important to brush your tongue.
Have Bad Breath? Try Brushing Your Tongue
Did you know that many people who suffer from bad breath only have this issue because of the bacteria build up on their tongue? Brushing your tongue to get rid of the biofilm will create a healthier, fresher environment for your teeth. It will also help with the embarrassment and strain bad breath puts on your social life. Simply removing this layer of bacteria will reduce your bad breath significantly.
The Link Between Brushing Your Tongue and Cavities
Without the issue of bad breath, is it still important to brush your tongue? Absolutely! The bacteria left behind on your tongue when it isn’t brushed contributes significantly to the growth of bacteria on your teeth, which can cause cavities and tooth decay. The bacteria will erode the enamel on your teeth, and will make them susceptible to decay and other problems such as gum disease. Rather than dealing with these problems down the road, you can add about 30 seconds to your daily routine to brush your tongue and reduce the amount of bacteria present.
The Details of Tongue Brushing
Understanding how brushing your tongue is important is the first step, but you may be wondering how to brush your tongue properly. There are a few different tools you can use.
1. Toothbrush – Many who brush their tongues choose to just use their toothbrush to remove the bacteria from the area like they would their teeth. In order to use a toothbrush on our tongue, you just need to stick out your tongue as far as possible and brush it. Some also like to use toothpaste and mouthwash in the process as well.
2. Scraper – A scraper is simply just a flat plastic tool used for brushing your tongue. With a scraper, the best thing for a clean tongue is to start from the back of your tongue and work your way forward. A scraper lacks bristles that a toothbrush has, so it may be harder to reach certain areas a toothbrush could.
3. Cleaner – A cleaner is a great tool for tongue brushing because like a scraper, it is flat and plastic, but like a toothbrush it has bristles. It combines the best of each other tool. However, the bristles on a cleaner are rubber.
You can easily tell when you are successfully removing the bacteria from your tongue, because the white residue on the area will slowly disappear.
Our Pasadena dentist and staff can help you learn even more about the importance of brushing your tongue and ridding your mouth of bacteria. We can also help you with any other dental related questions you may have.