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Why Should You Clean Your Tongue?

When people think of their oral health, most of them focus on brushing and flossing their teeth not realising that the teeth only comprise 1/20 of all the oral surfaces!

Imagine that in our mouths live over 700 different strains of bacteria that stick on all the hard and soft tissues of our mouth, including our cheeks, gums and especially the tongue.

The coat of bacteria and other debris trapped on the tongue can cause bad breath.
The surface of the tongue is covered in tiny bumps called papillae, and within their small grooves collect bacteria, dead skin cells, and food particles. This coat of bacteria and other debris trapped on the tongue can cause bad breath and a white discolouration of the tongue.

Not only that, but the bacteria on the tongue can also redeposit onto teeth and gums even after they’ve been cleaned, increasing the likelihood of plaque and tartar buildup, as well as tooth decay and gum disease.

The health of your tongue is just as important as that of your teeth and keeping a healthy and clean tongue that doesn’t nest bacteria is key to preventing other serious conditions.

Most people think that using a mouthwash is the best way to get rid of the unpleasant breath but unfortunately this is not the case.

When it comes to halitosis, most of the time the first cause is the biofilm (a group of microorganisms) covering the tongue. Rinsing only won’t work because when mouth rinses are used, only the outer cells of the biofilm are destroyed, the cells beneath the surface still thrive.

In order to fight bad breath, we need to physically remove the coating of biofilm. This is why cleaning your tongue should be a part of your daily oral health routine.

How do you clean your tongue?

There are two main ways to properly clean your tongue: brushing (you can use your normal toothbrush) and scraping (with a tongue scraper).

The best and most effectively way to clean your tongue is by using a tongue scraper. Place the scraper at the back of the tongue while sticking your tongue out, and with even pressure, slide the scraper down along the tongue’s surface towards the tip. Rinse the scraper and repeat, making sure to move from the back of the tongue to the tip so as to not to accidentally ingest the bacteria being removed. Once the whole surface of the tongue has been scraped, thoroughly clean and dry the tongue scraper, and brush and floss your teeth as normal.

Brush your tongue at least twice per day, once in the morning and once at night.

Start this healthy habit today and enjoy all the benefits of it – fresh breath, improved taste and overall oral health.

If you try all of these techniques and bad breath continues to plague you, there could be an underlying dental issue. Consult your dentist as soon as possible, so that your teeth can be examined for hidden cavities and decay.

Martina Crisma
Dental Hygienist, Italy
Umm Suqeim Clinic, Dubai

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