Cleaning Your Tongue Properly

Dental_Tips We frequently hear dental tips related to proper care of our teeth and gums, but there is one major component of the mouth that’s overlooked in oral health directions – the tongue!

Like all surfaces in our mouth, our tongue can accumulate bacteria in its grooves and ridges. A “coated tongue,” one that has an overgrowth of bacteria, can result from smoking, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene or medication use.

Here are a few dental tips that can help you clean your tongue properly and keep your mouth healthier.

  1. As far as what to clean your tongue with, you can use a teaspoon, your toothbrush, a toothbrush with a special tongue-cleaning attachment, or with an instrument designed specifically for cleaning tongues.
  2. Clean your tongue once per day – preferably first thing in the morning.
  3. Clean by scraping from the root of your tongue (in the back of your mouth) towards the tip. If you make more than one pass, rinse the cleaner, as it will be accumulating debris from your tongue.
  4. Do NOT clean your tongue forcefully. It shouldn’t hurt to have your tongue cleaned; overly aggressive cleaning of the tongue can cause damage to it.

Research indicates that tongue cleaning can be effective in temporarily reducing bad breath (halitosis). However, if you have a chronic problem with unpleasant breath, see your dentist, as the condition could signal an infection or other serious problems. Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist who practices in Phoenix, notes, “Tongue cleaning isn’t a cure-all for bad breath, or for other dental challenges, but it can be part of a proactive oral care regimen. Just remember that these dental self-care tips cannot replace regular consultations with your dentist!”

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