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Why Your Dentist Wants You Brushing Your Tongue (And How To Do It!)

 

Girl with brush and tongue cleaner.
 

Hopefully you’re already brushing and flossing twice per day, but even this may not be enough to keep your mouth and body healthy. If you’re not attacking the bacteria building up on your tongue every day, you’re doing your mouth a disservice. In this article, a Woodbridge dentist explains why.

Your Tongue is a Breeding Ground For Bacteria

Coffee stains it brown, and red wine coats it in carmine; we know that our tongue is affected by the food and drinks we cover it in, but many people fail to realize exactly how this impacts our oral health. The truth is that your tongue is just as much of a target for bacteria as your teeth, if not more so. Your tongue is a spongy, porous muscle, with countless nooks and crannies between taste buds and organ structures where bacteria can stow away. Harmful toxins can hide in these crevices and elevations, unless we make the effort to clean it away.

Rinsing Won’t Get Results

It’s not a pleasant thought, but many people go about their day with a white-coloured film on their tongue, thinking their morning rinse is enough to keep their mouth healthy. Unfortunately, it takes more than a little mouthwash to break down this buildup.

The film you see on your tongue is not just harmless saliva – it’s actually a multi-layered biofilm created when a group of bacterial microorganisms stick together on your tongue. Think of it as a thick carpet woven together with bacteria and food particles – pretty gross, huh?

Rinsing just isn’t enough. That’s like trying to clean your concrete foundation by spraying the surface of your carpet with a hose. The outer cells of the biofilm may be destroyed by the mouthwash rinse, but the cells hiding under the surface will still thrive.

The Effects of An Unclean Tongue

When allowed to thrive, the bacteria on your tongue can cause all sorts of problems. You’re allowing toxins to gather and fester right near your body’s primary orifice; when swallowed, these toxins can affect your whole-body health. If you aren’t cleaning your tongue regularly, you could be exposing yourself to tooth damage, decay, bad breath, and even some forms of heart disease.

How To Clean Your Tongue

A Woodbridge dentist shares some tongue-cleaning tips:

  • First, inspect your tongue before every cleaning. This quick check can alert you of any potential oral health problems. You want to see a clean, pink tongue. If you notice significant biofilm, or stark discolourations, you should alert your dental professional right away.
  • Next, choose your tool. There are many different styles to choose from, with scrapers being the most popular. Your dental provider will probably recommend a basic toothbrush, as there is no evidence to suggest that tongue cleaners are any more effective. You may want a scraper just to reduce the wear-and-tear on your brush.
  • Now it’s time to clean your tongue. Extend your tongue so that you can access its full length. Extending your tongue all the way will also prevent you from gagging. Scrape or brush your tongue from back to front. Do this multiple times. Move gently. Don’t damage the tongue. Rinse any residue off of your brush or scraper as you go. Add this step to your brushing and flossing routine.
  • Rinse your mouth. This will freshen your breath and help to wash away loose residue.

To learn more about preventative care for you and your kids, click here or call 905-264-1KID to speak with a Woodbridge dentist directly!