When talking about oral health care, we pay a lot of attention to using fluoride toothpaste and flossing, but we often overlook one crucial element: taking care of our tongue. Our tongue is home to thousands of taste buds that allow us to enjoy the taste of delicious dishes, but it is also home to a lot of the bacteria present in our mouths. The plague produced by the harmful bacteria residing in our mouths can cause bad breath, cavities, and other oral diseases.
So, while you do your best to clean your teeth, if you do not take care of your tongue and make it bacteria-free, you are still susceptible to oral diseases. That is why it is so necessary to take extra care of your tongue.
Not sure how to clean your tongue? Keep reading to learn about the do’s and don’ts of tongue care.
Do Brush Your Tongue Regularly
Every time you brush your teeth, you must brush your tongue as well. Brushing your tongue with a toothbrush is easy and can be done after you brush your teeth. The first step to brushing your tongue is to get a soft-bristled toothbrush. Once you have acquired the right toothbrush, stick your tongue out as far as it can reach and position the soft-bristled toothbrush at the back of your tongue. You can either use a wet toothbrush or put a little bit of toothpaste on it if you want. Now start gently brushing from the back of the mouth to the front in a downward motion. Once you are done, spit out the saliva and rinse your mouth with water or a warm saline solution to wash away the bacteria from your tongue.
Harmful bacteria can accumulate not only on your teeth but also on the tongue. By brushing your tongue, you are making sure that your mouth is free of any harmful bacteria. You also make sure that you have a refreshing breath at all times, as bacteria present in the mouth is the top reason for bad breath. It is necessary to be consistent with tongue cleaning and clean your tongue at least twice a day: once in the morning and once at night.
Do Use a Tongue Scraper
You can clean your tongue even more thoroughly using a tongue scraper. While both toothbrushes and tongue scrapers do an excellent job of eliminating bacteria present on the tongue, studies have found that using tongue scrapers is more effective.
To clean your tongue with a tongue scraper, you first need to buy a tongue scraper. You can select either a plastic one or a metal one. Most tongue scrapers are bent in half, making a V shape, but you can also get one with a handle and a rounded edge at the top. Once you have your tongue scraping instrument, stick out your tongue to its maximum and place it on the back of your tongue.
Now apply some pressure and drag the tooth scraper down the length of your tongue. By doing this, you are lightly scraping away the layer of debris and harmful bacteria accumulated on your tongue that causes bad breath. Repeat this step a few times, but remember to run the scraper under warm water after each stroke to remove any debris or bacteria from the scraper. Adjust the placement of your tongue scraper after each stroke to make sure that the whole surface of your tongue is bacteria-free.
Once done, spit out the excess saliva into the sink and continue brushing your teeth as you usually do. If your tongue feels sore afterward, you might be scraping it too harshly. So, make sure you slowly clean your tongue while applying light pressure. Also, if you gag during the process, use a tongue scraper before eating breakfast to avoid vomiting.
Bacteria grows fast, so the best way to reduce the bacteria in your mouth is to clean it regularly. Scraping your tongue once or twice every day after you brush your teeth will do the trick. Moreover, using a tongue scraper before bedtime can prevent bad breath in the morning.
Do Use a Mouth Rinse
Oral mouthwashes help clean all parts of your mouth, including the tongue. Use a therapeutic mouthwash, preferably one with active ingredients, after toothbrushing and tongue scraping to destroy any bacteria left in the mouth that could cause foul odor or other oral problems. You can always ask your dentist to prescribe you a mouthwash if you are unable to find the right one. Topping your oral care with a mouth wash keeps your breath fresh and your mouth healthy. Make sure that you follow the instructions written behind the mouthwash for the best oral health experience.
Do Stay Hydrated
By staying hydrated, you can prevent a number of health problems, including oral ones. Drinking lots of water not only ensures the healthy functioning of your entire body but also keeps your mouth cleaner. When you drink water, it washes away the debris and bacteria collected on your tongue and teeth. Therefore, make sure to drink plenty of water to have the brightest smile and the freshest breath.
Don’t Ignore the Appearance of Your Tongue
Your tongue can be an indicator of your oral health and any underlying oral diseases so, it is imperative to check the color of your tongue from time to time. A healthy tongue has a pink color – the shade can vary from person to person – and may have a slight white coating. However, a heavy white coat or the appearance of white patches on the tongue can be symptomatic of dehydration, fungal infection, oral thrush, or even oral cancer. A pale tongue means that you have a vitamin deficiency. On the other hand, if your tongue looks red or develops pink patches, it can be a symptom of a geographic tongue, an infection, or even a heart disorder.
In general, any significant changes in the color or texture or the development of pain, or the appearance of lumps on your tongue is a warning sign. Therefore, if you notice any unusual changes to your tongue, quickly book an appointment and have your dentist or doctor take a look.
Don’t Brush or Scrape your Tongue Too Hard
Whether you are cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper, make sure that you are gentle and apply very little pressure. The mucus membrane covering the tongue is sensitive, so by putting too much pressure, you can tear it and damage the surface of your tongue. You can also damage the taste buds if you scrape too harshly.
Though taking care of your tongue can add a few more minutes to your oral routine, it ensures that your mouth does not house any unwanted bacteria and protects it from oral diseases. By making a habit of cleaning your entire mouth – including your tongue – you can maintain impeccable oral health and total body wellness. So, to keep your mouth healthy and have a refreshing breath, pay attention to tongue care!