Besides your teeth and gums, your tongue is one place that bacteria can live and reproduce to create tooth decay and gum disease. Adding your tongue to your daily dental hygiene habit gets rid of more of the bacteria. Here is why you need to remember to include your tongue when you brush and floss everyday.
A Natural Hiding Spot for Bacteria
Hundreds of small bumps of tissue, called papillae, cover your tongue. These bumps, along with the folds and crevices on your tongue, help it hold onto food as it swirls it through your mouth while chewing. They also provide bacteria with a place to hide and reproduce. You may brush and floss once or twice a day, but if you don't include the tongue, you are leaving a source of tooth decay and gum disease in your mouth. To have a truly effective daily dental hygiene habit, you need to brush or scrape your tongue, too.
Cleaning the Tongue
There are two ways to clean the bacteria off of your tongue. Try each technique to discover which method works best for you. Do both for a little extra protection from bacteria in the mouth.
Brushing - During your normal teeth brushing, run the brush over the surface of the tongue. Focus on the upper surface and the sides. The bottom of the tongue is not textured, so bacteria can't get a grip there. Get as far back on the tongue as you can. Some people can't do this because their gag reflex kicks in and it becomes too uncomfortable. If you have this issue, try the next approach.
Scraping - Your dentist can recommend a good tongue scraper. To use it, you place the scraper as far back on the tongue as possible and drag it forward across the surface. Push down lightly while you drag the scraper forward. You'll pull saliva and bacteria off of the tongue. Do this on the top and sides of the tongue. Rinse your mouth and spit out the bacteria laden saliva. If you have a coating on your tongue from eating certain foods or smoking, don't try to scrape it off with the tool. You'll just irritate the tongue. The coating will wear off naturally throughout the day.
Cleaning your tongue creates a more complete dental hygiene routine. You will reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease and remove odor producing bacteria that cause bad breath. For more information, contact Family Dental Care or a similar location.