Do you have a white coating on the surface of your tongue? Don’t be embarrassed—most people have this. This coating is a bit like the plaque that coats your teeth; like plaque, it’s made up of food residue and bacteria, and when it’s not removed, it can impact your oral health.
Why You Should Clean Your Tongue
Cleaning your tongue should be part of your daily oral hygiene routine. We’ll get into how to brush your tongue later in this post, but let’s start out by talking about why it’s important. Here are some benefits of tongue cleaning:
- 80% of oral bacteria is resident on the tongue surface.
- It reduces the sulfur compounds on your tongue that can cause bad breath.
- It reduces the amount of bacteria on the tongue.
- It makes your mouth feel fresher.
- It reduces the levels of plaque on your teeth.
- It can improve your sense of taste.
How to Clean Your Tongue
There are three recommended ways to clean your tongue. Choose the method that is easiest and most comfortable for you and incorporate it into your brushing routine morning and night. If you have questions about the practice, ask your general dentist during your next appointment.
Tongue scrapers originated in Asia, but they’ve since become popular throughout the world. They are widely considered the most effective way to remove buildup from the tongue. They are typically made of an antimicrobial metal like copper, although there are also plastic versions.
To use a tongue scraper, hold one end in each hand. Stick out your tongue, then place the scraper on your tongue as far back as you can without causing yourself to gag. Use gentle pressure and scrape the film off of your tongue by moving the scraper from the back of the tongue to the front. Rinse the tongue scraper thoroughly in warm water and repeat until your tongue is clean.
Although a tongue scraper is very effective, you may want to use your toothbrush instead to eliminate the extra step in your oral hygiene routine since you’re brushing your teeth twice a day already. There are even some toothbrushes that have a built-in tongue cleaner on the reverse side of the brush head.
To use a toothbrush to clean your tongue, you’ll need to start with a soft-bristled brush, as a brush with firm bristles can injure the tongue. Start at the back of the mouth and brush to the front; rinse your brush with warm water and repeat until your tongue is clean.
Believe it or not, you can also use a spoon to clean your tongue! It works in a manner similar to a tongue scraper, although it’s not quite as effective due to its rounded shape. Still, it’s a tool we all have in our homes already. To clean your tongue with a spoon, start at the back of your tongue and using light pressure, scrape from the back to the front. Rinse the spoon and repeat until the white buildup is removed.