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Why and How to Clean Your Tongue

Although it’s vital to brush and floss your teeth regularly, if you’re not cleaning your tongue, your oral hygiene routine is not complete. Your tongue is covered in bacteria, which are concealed within all the crevices between the taste buds and other areas.

These bacteria can’t just be rinsed away with water or mouthwash. They are enclosed within a biofilm and must be physically removed by brushing or scraping the tongue. You may even have noticed a whitishcoating, caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells. Red wine can turn it red and coffee may turn it brown.

If these bacteria are left to buildup on the tongue, it can result in bad breath, diminished taste, cavities in teeth, gum disease, and affect overall health. Luckily, cleaning your tongue is an easy addition to your oral health routine. Although cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush is better than not cleaning it at all, a tongue scraper will do a much better job. In fact, it is estimated that the use of a tongue scraper will remove approximately one third more bacteria.

There are many tongue scrapers available from plastic to stainless steel and made in different shapes and sizes. Your dentist can recommend one, or you can choose one you like. Tongue scraping is easy and pain-free and takes only minutes to do. Your mouth will taste fresher, your breath will smell better and food may taste better by cleaning your tongue.

In order to clean your tongue thoroughly, it is especially important to clean the back of the tongue, where bacteria can often accumulate. Simply stick your tongue out and set the end of the scraper at the back of the tongue and slowly pull it toward the tip. Clean the scraper off and repeat, cleaning the entire surface of the tongue, remembering to always draw it from the back of the tongue to the tip. Your tongue should be pink, clean, and healthy looking.

Cleaning your tongue before bedtime is important. However, you may need or want to clean it more often, such as after meals, along with your normal brushing and flossing.

If you are interested in finding out more about the importance of tongue cleaning or more information for performing it, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein and her caring staff at My Plantation Dentist can help. To schedule your examination, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.  

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