Why Cleaning Your Tongue Is Important

Posted .

shutterstock_96904810Tongue cleanliness is an important yet often overlooked part of oral hygiene. You might brush and floss daily, but until you start cleaning your tongue, you will still have odor and disease-causing bacteria in your mouth. Dr. Jerry Strauss encourages all of his New Jersey dentistry patients to get into the habit of cleaning their tongue on a daily basis.

Kills Bacteria and Freshens Breath

An incredible amount of debris and bacteria accumulate in the uneven surfaces of the tongue. The grooves and crevices are perfect places for bacteria to hide. Over time and without the proper cleaning, the tongue can become coated in so much debris that it turns brown, yellow, green and even black.

Leaving these organisms on the tongue can lead to serious problems such as dental cavities and periodontal (gum) disease. And with studies showing a link between gum disease and systemic diseases like diabetes and stroke, the consequences of these organisms and their secretions are very serious.

Another problem with leaving debris on the tongue is that it causes halitosis (a.k.a. bad breath). In fact, it is estimated that up to 80 percent of halitosis cases are due to debris accumulating on the tongue, putrefying and causing a fetid odor.

Brushing Techniques

The simplest way to clean your tongue is to put a small dab of toothpaste on it and carefully brush the top of it with your regular toothbrush. Go slowly and use gentle pressure. Try to reach as far back on the tongue as is comfortable. Once you have finished brushing the tongue, rinse with water.

If you want a more thorough cleaning, try using a tongue scraper (available at most drugstores), which gently peels the mucus-like layer of debris from the tongue. Scrape slowly with gentle pressure, going over the length of the tongue. Focus your efforts on the center of the tongue, where the majority of bacteria tends to fester. After each pass, rinse the scraper with warm water. Once you’re done, rinse your mouth.

After incorporating a regular routine of cleaning your tongue, you should notice your mouth feels cleaner and your breath fresher. Removing debris is also helpful to clean and expose the taste buds that sit on the tongue. Some people notice that their taste perception increases after regularly cleaning their tongue.

For more information about good oral hygiene habits, contact Dr. Jerry Strauss at Aesthetic Dental Care today.