Any dentist would agree that good oral hygiene habits are the best way for you to prevent dental problems and minimize the dental work you need. But while brushing and flossing are the cornerstone of your hygiene routine, there’s an extra step you may not be doing: cleaning your tongue! Keep reading to find out why a clean tongue benefits you and get some easy tips for the best way to do it.
Why Should You Clean Your Tongue Each Day?
Your tongue may feel smooth, but it actually has a relatively rough surface that’s covered in hundreds of taste buds and short, hair-like papillae. This makes it easy for food debris, residual sugars, and bacteria to accumulate on its surface.
In fact, it’s estimated that around half of the bacteria in your mouth is on your tongue. If you aren’t keeping it clean, you’re more likely to develop cavities and gum disease, not to mention bad breath.
How Should You Clean Your Tongue?
Cleaning your tongue doesn’t require a lot of extra time or effort. By adding just 30 to 60 seconds to your brushing and flossing routine with one of the two methods below, you’ll have a cleaner, healthier smile in no time:
- Use a tongue scraper – A simple, inexpensive tool called a tongue scraper can be found at many drugstores or online. It’s typically made of either metal or plastic and is U-shaped to reach the back of the tongue while still being comfortable. If you have a gag reflex, it may be easier to use this tool as opposed to using your toothbrush (it’s also helpful to only clean your tongue night when the gag reflex isn’t as strong). Just lightly glide it over your tongue a few times, only going as far back as you’re comfortable, and rinse well.
- Use your toothbrush – Alternatively, you can just use your toothbrush to brush your tongue. If you opt for this method, spend a few extra seconds lightly brushing your gums and the roof of your mouth as well.
When you start removing the “film” from your tongue each day, you’ll be surprised at how much cleaner your entire mouth feels. And by combining good oral hygiene at home with regular checkups, you can look forward to fewer dental problems and better overall oral health (with a minimum of extra effort).
About the Author
Dr. Robert Long has decades of experience as a family dentist and is a native of the Cleburne area. He’s a big advocate of preventing dental problems with good oral hygiene at home and always encourages his patients to brush, floss, and keep their tongue clean each day. If you’d like to know more about cleaning your tongue or have any questions, he can be contacted via his website.