Article at a Glance
- Cleaning your tongue is an important step to battling bad breath and removing unwanted bacteria from your mouth.
- More than half of halitosis, or bad breath, is caused by bacteria build-up on the tongue.
- There are many tools available for tongue scraping, so you can choose the one that works best for you and your lifestyle.
The Importance of Cleaning Your Tongue
When brushing your teeth, you’re trying to rid your mouth of bacteria and debris. The surface of your tongue also comes into contact with the same substances when you eat and drink, so it makes sense to rid your tongue of bacteria and debris as well. In fact, while the tip of your tongue is essentially self-cleaning, the middle and back of your tongue collect more bacteria than any other part of your mouth. This build-up of bacteria is a primary cause of bad breath and can contribute to tooth decay. You may even find that your sense of taste improves too after cleaning your tongue!
What is the Best Way to Clean Your Tongue?
Tongue scraping is the most common way to clean your tongue. You can purchase a device called a tongue scraper, or you can select a toothbrush with a built-in tongue scraping feature. If you have a strong gag reflex, you may want to use a tongue scraper instead of a toothbrush to reduce gagging as it takes up less vertical space in your mouth. There are many tongue scraping options available, so you may want to try them all to determine which you prefer or speak with your dentist about their recommendations.
How to Use a Tongue Scraper
Once you have your tongue scraper in hand, you’ll want to know how to scrape your tongue properly. Extend your tongue all the way so you can clean as much of the surface as possible without activating your gag reflex. Gently scrape your tongue from the back to the front. Be sure to rinse residue from the tool as it builds up and continue until you’ve covered your entire tongue and all debris is removed. When you’re done, rinse your mouth out to clear any remaining bacteria.
There are a few things to remember when you’re working on keeping your tongue clean. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, so why not incorporate tongue scraping to your teeth brushing routine? To have the best impact, you may want to scrape your tongue after eating or drinking to prevent bacteria from building up and causing bad breath.
Does Tongue Scraping Work?
Some of the benefits of tongue scraping are easy to see while others take a bit more time to recognize.
- By looking at your tongue in a mirror, you can see the bacteria and residue (usually a whitish coating) prior to tongue scraping and then your clean tongue afterward.
- Tongue scraping removes two types of bacteria – mutans streptococci and lactobacilli – known to cause bad breath and dental decay.
- As mentioned above, tongue scraping reduces bad breath because your tongue is the most likely culprit when it comes to halitosis.
- Your sense of taste will most likely improve when you regularly tend to your tongue. A clean tongue is more capable of differentiating between taste sensations and you may pick up on more subtle undertones in food and drink.
Tongue Scraping is Part of a Good Oral Health Routine
Adding tongue scraping to your daily routine is a good way to eliminate the build-up of bacteria in your mouth. You still need to keep up with brushing, flossing, and regular appointments with your dentist.