Should I clean my Tongue?
Jul 2, 2018
Even if you brush and floss your pearly whites twice or thrice a day, you cannot think of going cavity-free. This is because the bacteria residing on the tongue are not being addressed. Cleaning your tongue is recommended as it is beneficial in fighting bad breath as well as maintaining good dental hygiene.
The tongue is an important structure in your oral cavity and needs to be kept clean from food debris. It is advised to pay maximum attention to the cleanliness of your tongue.
Importance of tongue cleaning
When it comes to maintaining a healthy mouth, most people focus solely on brushing and flossing their teeth. However, neglecting to clean your tongue can leave behind a significant number of bacteria and debris, leading to bad breath and other oral health issues. The surface of the tongue is covered in small bumps called papillae, which can trap food particles and bacteria. Without proper cleaning, these particles can accumulate, resulting in a white or yellow coating on the tongue.
The benefits of tongue cleaning are its ability to remove this coating and improve breath freshness. Bad breath, or halitosis, is often caused by the breakdown of food particles by bacteria in the mouth. By regularly cleaning your tongue, you can significantly reduce the number of bacteria present and eliminate the source of the odor. This can lead to a noticeable improvement in your breath and an increased sense of confidence.
Tongue cleaning can also help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. When bacteria build up on the tongue, they can transfer to the teeth and gums, increasing the risk of cavities and inflammation. By removing these bacteria regularly, you can minimise the chances of developing these oral health problems.
Tongue cleaning can promote a healthier balance of oral bacteria, which is crucial for maintaining optimal oral health.
The science behind tongue cleaning
To understand the science behind tongue cleaning, it is important to recognize the role of bacteria in oral health. The mouth is home to millions of bacteria, some of which are beneficial and others that can be harmful. When these bacteria accumulate on the tongue, they can form a biofilm known as plaque. This plaque is not only responsible for bad breath but can also contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.
Tongue cleaning works by physically removing this plaque and the bacteria it contains. The gentle scraping action of a tongue cleaner helps dislodge the biofilm from the papillae, allowing it to be rinsed away with water. This simple yet effective method can significantly reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and promote a healthier oral environment.
Tongue cleaning also stimulates the taste buds. The surface of the tongue is covered in tiny taste receptors, which are responsible for detecting different flavors. When the tongue is coated with debris and bacteria, it can impair taste perception, making food less enjoyable. By regularly cleaning your tongue, you can enhance your taste perception and fully savor the flavors of your favorite foods.
Benefits beyond Oral Health
While the primary focus of tongue cleaning is on oral health, its benefits extend beyond just fresh breath and a clean mouth. Research has shown that tongue cleaning can have positive effects on overall health and well-being.
- Impact on the immune system
The mouth is the gateway to the body, and bacteria present in the oral cavity can easily travel to other parts of the body, potentially causing infections and inflammation. By reducing the bacterial load in the mouth through tongue cleaning, you can help support a healthier immune system and reduce the risk of systemic infections.
- Improve digestion
The tongue plays a crucial role in the initial stages of digestion by helping to break down food and mix it with saliva. When the tongue is coated with bacteria and debris, this process can be hindered, leading to digestive issues such as bloating and indigestion. By keeping the tongue clean, you can support optimal digestion and prevent these uncomfortable symptoms.
- Positive impact on overall oral hygiene
By maintaining a clean and healthy tongue, you can reduce the risk of developing conditions such as oral thrush and geographic tongue. These conditions can cause discomfort and affect your ability to eat and speak. By incorporating tongue cleaning into your daily routine, you can minimise the chances of experiencing these oral health issues and enjoy a healthier mouth.
How to clean your tongue
Now that you understand the importance and benefits of tongue cleaning, it’s important to know how to do it effectively. The good news is that tongue cleaning is a straightforward process that can be easily incorporated into your daily oral hygiene routine. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to thoroughly clean your tongue:
- Start by choosing a tongue cleaner that suits your needs. There are several types available, including tongue scrapers and tongue brushes. Look for a tool that is comfortable to use and has a gentle yet effective cleaning surface
- Stand in front of a mirror and stick out your tongue. This will give you a clear view of the tongue’s surface and allow for easier cleaning.
- Hold the tongue cleaner with both hands and gently place it at the back of your tongue.
- Using light pressure, scrape the cleaner along the surface of your tongue from back to front. Be sure to cover the entire surface, including the sides and the back.
- Rinse the tongue cleaner under running water to remove any accumulated debris.
- Repeat the scraping process 2-3 times, rinsing the cleaner after each scrape.
- After you finish cleaning the tongue, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water or mouthwash to remove any remaining debris.
- Clean your tongue cleaner with water and store it in a clean, dry place for future use.
Incorporating tongue cleaning into your daily routine
Now that you know how to thoroughly clean your tongue and have chosen the right tongue cleaner, it’s time to incorporate tongue cleaning into your daily routine. Like any habit, consistency is key to experiencing the full benefits of tongue cleaning. Here are some tips to help you make tongue cleaning a regular part of your oral hygiene routine:
- Set a reminder
It can be easy to forget to clean your tongue, especially if it’s a new habit. Set a reminder on your phone or place a sticky note in your bathroom to prompt you to clean your tongue every day.
- Make it a part of your brushing routine
Incorporate tongue cleaning into your regular brushing routine. After brushing your teeth, take a few extra minutes to clean your tongue. This way, it becomes a natural part of your oral hygiene regimen.
- Be consistent
Aim to clean your tongue at least once a day, preferably in the morning before eating or drinking anything. This helps remove the bacteria and debris that have accumulated overnight.
- Practice proper technique
Follow the step-by-step guide provided earlier to ensure you are cleaning your tongue effectively. Remember to be gentle and avoid applying excessive pressure, as this can cause discomfort or injury.
- Be patient
It may take some time to get used to tongue cleaning, especially if it’s a new habit for you. Be patient and give yourself time to adjust. With regular practice, it will become second nature.
Despite its many benefits, there are some common misconceptions surrounding tongue cleaning that may deter people from incorporating it into their oral hygiene routine. Lets set the record straight:
- Brushing my teeth is enough
While brushing your teeth is essential for maintaining oral health, it is not enough to remove the bacteria and debris that accumulate on the tongue. Tongue cleaning is a complementary practice that targets the specific buildup on the tongue’s surface.
- Tongue cleaning is painful
When done correctly, tongue cleaning should not be painful. Be sure to choose a gentle tongue cleaner and use light pressure. If you experience discomfort, adjust your technique or switch to a softer cleaner.
- I don’t have time for tongue cleaning
Tongue cleaning takes just a few extra minutes and can easily be incorporated into your daily oral hygiene routine. The benefits far outweigh the minimal time investment required.
- My toothbrush can clean my tongue
While some toothbrushes come with a tongue cleaner on the back of the brush head, they may not be as effective as dedicated tongue cleaners. Toothbrush bristles are designed for cleaning teeth and may not reach the deeper crevices of the tongue’s surface.