We can’t stress enough how important it is to brush and floss your teeth every day. That’s the best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But did you know that brushing your tongue can be just as important? It’s true! Your tongue can hold bacteria that can move from there to your teeth even after you’ve brushed and flossed. That can cause tooth decay and bad breath.
How do you brush your tongue? Should you use a tongue scraper? If so, should you scrape your tongue before or after brushing? These are just some of the questions we get about tongue cleaning at Beavers & Broomfield Family Dentistry in Fayetteville, AR. We encourage our patients to do all they can to keep their mouth healthy and their teeth strong, and cleaning their tongue is one of the easy ways to do both!
Why the Tongue is Important
You know your tongue is vital for talking and tasting, but did you know it can also be a gauge for not only your oral health but your overall health? It’s true! If your tongue swells, it may be because of an allergic reaction or because you have strep or another serious illness. What happens if your tongue turns white? That could mean you’re dehydrated or anemic, or you could have another type of nutritional deficiency.
What does it mean if you get sores on your tongue? That could be a sign of stress or a bad reaction to a certain food or mouthwash — or you just bit your tongue. Even biting your tongue tells us something — it says your teeth may not be aligned properly and you may need orthodontic treatment!
Your tongue is super important, which is why you need to keep it clean and healthy!
Clean Tongue v. Dirty Tongue
A dirty tongue is coated in bacteria. Even if you brush your teeth really well, they could end up coated in bacteria again in a matter of minutes if you neglect to get the bacteria off your tongue. That bacteria can lead to bad breath, too. Ever have a nasty taste in your mouth? Chances are, you have bacteria on your teeth and tongue!
Why do you need to keep your tongue clean? Here are some of the best reasons!
- Bacteria can gather on your tongue, then spread. With all those taste buds on the surface of your tongue, bacteria has lots of nooks and crannies in which to hide. That bacteria can move from your tongue to your teeth and gums if you don’t give your tongue a good scrubbing.
- Bacteria causes bad breath and bad tastes. Yep, that nasty taste in your mouth is caused by bacteria. It also causes that stinky breath. Brushing your tongue can get rid of both, make your mouth healthier, and make you (and those near you) happier!
- Bacteria can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Bacteria that move from your tongue to your teeth can start eating away at your enamel and soft tissue. This can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and other dental diseases. The less bacteria in your mouth, the healthier it is, so brush your teeth, gums, AND tongue!
How to Brush the Tongue
We now know how important it is to brush your tongue, but how exactly do you do that? There are two easy ways to clean your tongue — with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper.
The easiest way to clean your tongue is with your toothbrush. Make sure you’re using a soft-bristled brush so you don’t irritate or injure your tongue. You also need toothpaste. YOu’ll want to brush from back to front, then brush lightly underneath your tongue and along each side. Brush your tongue after you brush your teeth, then rinse.
For a deeper cleaning, you can use a tongue scraper. Many patients ask whether they should use a tongue scraper before or after brushing. It’s best to do it after brushing to remove any lingering bacteria. Scrape from back to front and rinse the scraper with warm water after each pass.
Some people may be hesitant to clean their tongue because of the gag reflex. The best tip on how not to gag when brushing your tongue is to start small. Begin brushing or scraping about the middle of the tongue and pull forward, then start a bit further back. You can keep starting further back each time you brush your tongue. Eventually, you will get used to it and the gag reflex won’t kick in when you brush.
Clean Tongue and Teeth at Your Dentists in Fayetteville, AR
Good oral hygiene habits are vital to your oral health. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing and brushing your tongue once a day. It also means seeing a dentist twice a year for a good cleaning and examination to detect any problems, such as tooth decay or gum disease. Request an appointment if you are in the Fayetteville, AR, area. We’ll also check your tongue for any tell-tale signs of disease or illness, from dehydration to strep. We’ll also x-ray your teeth and check for signs of cavities or other issues.
Come see us, and we’ll take care of your tongue, gums, and all aspects of your beautiful smile!