Your daily oral hygiene ritual is not complete without cleaning your tongue. This often forgotten step is just as important as brushing and flossing your teeth.
Why? Because the rough surface of the tongue also harbors harmful bacteria. This bacteria can lead to plaque, gum disease and lingering bad breath.
According to the American Dental Association, bad breath affects up to 50% of the adult population. So the next time you start brushing your teeth, remember to invite your tongue along for a cleaning session as well.
Tongue Cleaning Tools
Brushing your tongue is a piece of cake. However, it is important to choose the right cleaning tool to fit your oral hygiene needs:
- Tongue Scraper: this tool is usually made of soft, flexible plastic and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is designed to get rid of the buildup of bacteria, food debris and dead cells from the surface of the tongue.
- Tongue Brush: this brush has bristles that are specifically designed to brush the tongue and is just as effective as a tongue scraper.
- Normal Toothbrush: if none of the above tools are available, you can use your regular toothbrush to clean your tongue. A toothbrush designed to clean hard tooth enamel will not give you the same result as a tongue brush, but it can be a temporary replacement until you get your hands on one of the aforementioned tools.
How to Clean Your Tongue
Do not forget to clean your tongue in a gentle manner because it can be incredibly sensitive. You can use the following steps before or after brushing your teeth:
- Start your cleaning mission at the back of your tongue and then work your way forward. Remember to apply gentle pressure in order to avoid triggering your gag reflex.
- Scrape and clean every inch of your tongue, including the sides.
- You can repeat this step a few times using a tongue brush.
- Rinse your mouth afterwards, preferably with a minty mouthwash.
- Make sure to rinse your tools after every use.
Benefits of Cleaning Your Tongue
- Fresh Breath: bad breath is caused by many things including diet, gum disease and poor oral hygiene. Eating food while failing to uphold a daily routine of brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning will cause the bacteria on your tongue to release what is known as volatile sulfur compounds. According to the National Institutes of Health, tongue scraping can decrease the number of those horrible-smelling compounds by 75%. Therefore, a clean tongue is a prerequisite for fresh breath.
- Better Sense of Taste: brushing your tongue, especially after eating, is like a palate cleanser. It helps unclog your taste buds by removing traces of food and bacteria.
Oral hygiene and overall health are closely intertwined. Cleaning your tongue once or twice a day is a win-win situation for all parties involved, including your teeth and taste-buds.
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