We all know how important brushing your teeth is to your dental health, but too many individuals aren’t aware that cleaning your tongue should also be incorporated into your daily dental hygiene routine. Bacteria is the main cause of tooth decay, and although bacteria on the tongue won’t directly cause tooth decay it can certainly be a contributing factor to poor dental health and chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis. Human tongues contain a variety of surfaces, crevices, and bumps where bacteria can conglomerate and, in fact, thrive. Your mouth is a warm, moist space with plenty of nutrients to keep bacteria happy. Although some of the bacteria may be beneficial, much of it is detrimental. The grooves in between taste buds are especially vulnerable to the buildup of bacteria and the bacteria can also transfer to your recently brushed teeth as time goes on. What’s worse is the bacteria can build a thin biofilm or layer of mucus that protects the bacteria, so it’s important to note that just rinsing your mouth with mouthwash or water isn’t a satisfactory when it comes to breaking up the biofilm and removing the layers of bacteria.
There’s more than one recommended way to clean your tongue. There are even dental tools specifically dedicated to cleaning the tongue. They’re typically called tongue scrapers and you can buy them online or at your local store in the oral hygiene area. The scraper is meant to scrape the biofilm off of your tongue. You don’t need to purchase a tongue scraper though to clean your tongue you can simply use the soft bristles of your toothbrush when you’re finished brushing your teeth. Some toothbrushes also have a built in tongue cleaning tool on the back part of the brush. Make sure to brush the entire surface of the tongue front to back and side to side gently with the soft bristles and rinse with water after. Cleaning the tongue is quick and easy and we recommend getting in the habit and cleaning your tongue every time your brush your teeth.