You may understand the importance of brushing your teeth, but did you know brushing your tongue is just as crucial? Your mouth truly isn’t clean if you brush and floss your teeth but skip cleaning your tongue. Our dentist in Raleigh is here to explain why it plays a significant role in your oral health.
What Role Does Your Tongue Play in Your Oral Health?
Your tongue plays a huge role in everything related to your oral cavity, from eating to speaking. It’s also exposed to millions of kinds of bacteria daily. If you don’t clean your tongue properly, the bacteria will linger and lead to issues like decay or cavities. Bacteria on your tongue is also known to produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are associated with other health concerns.
Remember that brushing and flossing don’t remove the bacteria that sits and collects on your tongue!
Best Reasons to Brush Your Tongue
Fortunately, cleaning your tongue is quite easy! All you need is a soft-bristled toothbrush or a scraper. Scraping or brushing your tongue can bring you many benefits to improve your oral health. Some of them include the following:
People make the mistake of thinking that only brushing their teeth can eliminate halitosis, or bad breath. Since your tongue is covered in sulfur-producing bacteria, it can trap those particles and cause an unpleasant odor. Brushing it daily can remove the bacteria that make your breath smell.
Enhance Your Taste
If you recently noticed some of your favorite foods don’t taste the same, it may mean you need to brush your tongue more! A buildup of bacteria and plaque on your tongue can cover your taste buds and make them less sensitive. As a result, your sense of taste becomes dull. A clean tongue means you can enjoy the rich flavors of your food.
Reduce Chances of Cavities or Gum Disease
Removing all the harmful bacteria on your tongue can reduce your chances of developing an oral infection or cavities. Without daily cleaning, the bacteria from your tongue can spread to your teeth, which can cause gingivitis (the earliest form of gum disease). As you may already know, leaving this untreated allows it to progress to advanced gum disease.
Cleaning your tongue is great for improving your overall oral health.
Boost Your Immunity
Part of your immune system’s first line of defense is your tongue. Keeping it clean by brushing it will prevent harmful toxins from getting absorbed into your body. As a result, you may notice a boost in the overall function of your immune system.
Reduce the Risk of Oral Thrush
Oral thrush, also known as candidiasis, is an infection caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth. If you have an excessive buildup of bacteria in your mouth, you may notice white patches appearing on your tongue or a bad taste in your mouth. You may need an antifungal medicine to treat oral thrush, but cleaning your tongue daily can prevent it from returning.
Rinsing Isn’t Enough
If you have a buildup of bacteria on your tongue, eliminating it will take more than rinsing with water or mouthwash. This buildup is called biofilm, which is what happens when a group of microorganisms sticks together on your tongue’s surface. Brushing or scraping the tongue is the best way to physically remove them.
How to Properly Clean Your Tongue
Every time you brush your teeth, you should make sure to brush your tongue as well. Start from the back (be careful not to trigger your gag reflex) and move your way forward using a firm but gentle pressure.
If you’re cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush, use a dollop of toothpaste as you brush. You should be moving in back-and-forth motions like you would when brushing your teeth. If you’re cleaning your tongue with a scraper, you should be moving it across your tongue several times at different angles to remove everything.
After you finish brushing or scraping, rinse your mouth and then the toothbrush or scraper. Your tongue should be pink with no discoloration in the end.
How Often Should You Clean Your Tongue?
Since bacteria grow quickly, you’ll want to clean your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper twice daily. You’re free to use either device, but some researchers have found that tongue scrapers can be more effective. For some people, using a toothbrush might be easier.
Are You Looking for a Dentist in Raleigh?
If you make a habit of keeping your tongue clean, you should have a healthy mouth and fresh breath. The team at Tryon Family Dentistry is also dedicated to helping you learn the best practices to ensure your oral health is at its best. If you’re looking for a dentist, give our office a call to schedule an appointment!