Good oral hygiene routines include brushing at twice a day and flossing at least once a day, but adding in tongue brushing may also help improve oral health. While everyone knows how important it is to remove built up bacteria from the mouth with regular brushing, they may not realize that all that harmful bacteria exists on the tongue too. Tongues are the perfect place for bacteria to thrive because of their rough surface. Brushing the tongue removes bacteria that tooth brushing doesn’t touch and can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Tongue cleaning tools
Although the idea of brushing the tongue might make some people cringe, it’s a helpful additional part of oral hygiene. It’s important to do it correctly and choose a cleaning tool that fits personal needs. Tongue cleaning tools include:
- Standard toothbrush – Using a standard toothbrush to clean the tongue is better than nothing, but it’s not designed to clean the rough surface, and tiny crevices of the tongue so won’t do a very thorough job
- Tongue scraper – Made from plastic or metal, tongue scrapes work best for cleaning the tongue and are easy to use. Tongue scraping can reduce bad breath by 75%.
- Tongue brush – Tool with bristles specifically designed to clean out tongue crevices
Proper tongue cleaning
The tongue can be very sensitive, so it’s important that patients clean in gently. Patients can clean their tongue before or after brushing with the following steps:
- Start at the back of the tongue and work gently forward
- Clean and scrape entire top and sides of tongue
- With a tongue brush, repeating the method a few times may be required
- Thoroughly rinse the tongue scraper or tongue brush after every use
- Rinse after tongue cleaning, preferably with antibiotic mouthwash
Even brushing the tongue once a day can improve oral health as it removes bacteria that brushing and flossing teeth can’t clean away. If there are any health issues that may make tongue cleaning painful such as sores or sickness, patients should consult their dentist or doctor before proceeding.
Practicing great oral hygiene every day has proven, long-lasting positive effects on oral and overall health. Patients who add tongue cleaning into their oral hygiene routine can combat harmful bacteria along with freshening their breath. If you want to add tongue cleaning to your oral hygiene routine but want some advice on safe tools and techniques, contact your dental professional. At Greater Baltimore Prosthodontics, we’re dedicated to helping you obtain and keep a truly healthy smile.