By now, most of us are likely very well-acquainted with the concept of brushing our teeth and flossing. We know why we should do it, why we need to do it, and how it impacts other aspects of our general health when we don’t do it. However, many people may not be aware of why we need to brush our tongues. The truth of the matter is that bacteria live on your tongue, too. When you don’t brush your tongue, you increase your chances of experiencing halitosis, or bad breath, and put the state of your overall dental health at risk.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why you should incorporate brushing your tongue into your oral hygiene routine:
Your Tongue is a Bacteria Magnet
Just like your teeth, the tongue attracts all kinds of bacteria. From what you eat to what you drink, your tongue is impacted by the variety of foods and beverages that you consume. Coffee can stain your tongue brown while red wine can stain it red, and sugary drinks like soda can negatively impact your oral hygiene. Simply put, you can improve the overall health of your mouth by brushing your tongue.
Further, although your tongue isn’t at risk for developing cavities, the tongue accumulates bacteria because of its shape, the way it’s designed. It’s not a smooth surface; it’s actually filled with crevices and elevations that make it very easy for bacteria to hide and take up residence.
Not Brushing Your Tongue Can Cause Bad Breath
When you don’t brush your tongue and let the bacteria fester, you increase your chances of experiencing halitosis, or bad breath. You may think you’ve covered your bases by swishing water or mouthwash around in your mouth, but this alone won’t get the job done. Why? Because the bacterial buildup isn’t just saliva; it’s actually a biofilm that sticks on the surface of the tongue. Using mouthwash only destroys the outer cells of the biofilm while those underneath the surface still thrive.
Your Sense of Taste May Dissipate
As you may have guessed, your taste buds are located on your tongue. If you avoid brushing your tongue, you may find your sense of taste start to dull. Foods that you once loved for their flavor may start to become muted in taste. When you consistently clean your tongue, more of your taste buds are exposed and you can, therefore, indulge in and enjoy richer flavors of food.
Quick Tips for Cleaning Your Tongue
Cleaning your tongue is an easy act to incorporate into your daily oral hygiene routine. Here are a few quick tips:
- Brush your tongue from front to back
- Brush your tongue from side to side
- Rinse your mouth with water and/or mouthwash
- Be sure to change your toothbrush every 3-4 months
In addition to, or instead of, using a toothbrush, you can also use a tongue scraper. By starting from the back and moving the scraper forward, you should be able to effectively remove the top layer of the tongue, which is home to most food particles, bacteria and other forms of buildup. Tongue scrapers are available in most drugstores and grocery stores. You can reuse your tongue scraper as long as you properly disinfect it after each use.
If you have any questions about using a tongue scraper or cleaning your tongue in general, we’re here to provide you with the information that you need to improve your overall dental health!