It can be causing your bad breath ! The oral cavity is the entry point to our digestive system and the rest of the body. This makes it the most important part of the human anatomy. Everything that is in our mouth is connected to our digestive system and hence, any food or drink we consume will eventually have its effects on our whole body. In the same context, any harmful substances that come in contact with our oral cavity have its effect (although sometimes negligible) on our overall health. Therefore, it is important to maintain a good oral hygiene by taking good care of our teeth, gums, tongue, etc. Often much emphasis is given to brushing the teeth twice a day from a young age. The importance of cleaning the tongue is not much of a discussed topic when it comes to oral hygiene. Whereas dentists and dental hygienists both encourage a complete oral hygiene which includes cleaning your tongue as well.
Why is tongue cleaning necessary?
As discussed earlier, oral hygiene includes cleaning of the whole mouth including the gums and the tongue. Our tongue does not have a plane surface and it is full of taste buds which makes it rough. This rough and uneven surface nurtures bacterial growth. A large part of bacterial growth in your mouth stays on your tongue. This bacteria forms a film on your tongue and if the bacteria are not removed regularly it forms plaque on the tongue and can lead to many health issues.
The tongue must look clean and pink in color. Discoloration or white patches on the tongue are a serious concern and they indicate that your tongue is not clean. If you ever notice the white layer on the tongue, persistent plaque coating on the tongue or some pain in the tongue, you must visit a dental clinic and have the professionals to address the problem. The tongue is a haven for bacterial growth which can eventually affect the teeth or can lead to infection of the tongue. Our oral cavity transfers bacteria and debris to our digestive system which can also cause serious health issues. Studies indicate that unhygienic oral conditions have a direct effect on various fatal health conditions. Diseases like arthritis and cardiovascular problems can occur due to oral health problems. Poor oral hygiene is also bad for pregnant women as the bacteria can affect the infant and can even lead to preterm birth. Tongue cleaning can prevent plaque accumulation that can eventually harm the teeth and gums. It also prevents bad breath and increases the sense of taste by freeing the taste buds.
How do I clean my tongue?
Proper cleaning of the tongue is necessary to have a good oral hygiene and prevent all kinds of oral health problems. The tongue can be cleared of plaque and bacteria through brushing. You might think that brushing is for the teeth but brushing can effectively and equally clean the tongue too. Brushing your tongue from the back to the front removes a significant amount of plaque and bacteria. There are other oral hygiene devices and methods with which you can clean your tongue.
Tools to clean your tongue
There are different kinds of tongue cleaning devices and tools that are readily available at general stores. Although normal brushing of the tongue can remove plaque and bacteria from the surface of the tongue, you must try using tongue cleaning products. These products will ensure proper cleaning of the tongue and remove a major amount plaque and bacterial accumulation from your mouth.
The most common kind of tongue cleaning tool is the tongue scraper. You can use the scraper to gently scrape off the film of bacteria from your tongue. Scrapers are generally made of a single strip of metal which is either stainless steel or copper. Metal scrapers can be put in hot water for sterilization. There are also plastic and silicone scrapers available in stores. The soft edges of a plastic or silicone tongue cleaner will make tongue cleaning much comfortable for the kids as well as adults who have had problems like damaging the surface of the tongue due to metal tongue scrapers. However, plastic and silicone tongue cleaners are softer so they wear off faster than metal tongue cleaners and cannot be sterilized and thus, have to be changed regularly
Tongue brush is a new and effective tool for cleaning the tongue as well. The tongue brush is made up of soft and short bristles and is dense in volume to gently clean up the surface of the tongue. Nowadays, toothbrushes come with tongue scrapers etched on their backs so you can clean your tongue along with brushing your tooth without having to buy a different tool for tongue cleanup.
The process of cleaning
The proper process of tongue cleaning is necessary just like a proper brushing technique for the teeth. Scraping too hard can damage the surface of the tongue and although the wounds of the tongue heal quickly, there are still chances of infections. To clean your tongue properly, follow these steps:
- First, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. This will make the plaque loose from the tongue surface.
- Then extend your tongue outwards. This will enable you to properly scrape off a larger area of the tongue without the worry of the gag reflex.
- Use your scraper or tongue cleaner to scrape off the plaque and bacteria. You must scrape from the back of the tongue to the front.
- Try to reach as far as you can without gagging and move the scraping tool in a forward motion removing the plaque out of the oral cavity.
- Clean the residue from the scraper or the cleaning tool you’re using and then repeat the same motion.
- Always go from the back to the front. Do not scrape too hard or put too much pressure as the scraper can cause bleeding.
- After you’re done scraping off the tongue, rinse your mouth once more with an antiseptic mouthwash to remove any remaining debris left-back after the cleaning.
If you face difficulty using scrapers or tongue brushes, you can wrap a medical gauge around your finger and gently rub the surface of the tongue and use a mouthwash to clean your tongue.
If you notice any changes in the appearance of your tongue or feel any unexpected sores or wounds, visit our dental clinic in West Edmonton. Book your appointment at Motivo Dental and consult the dentist for any of your oral health problems.