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How to clean your tongue
By Dr. Mohamed Tarek Galal Abdel Hamid
” Cleaning your tongue can significantly improve your oral health.”
Dr. Mohamed Tarek Galal Abdel Hamid
What is the best way to clean your tongue?
Most people know that they should be brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing regularly to maintain healthy teeth and gums, but fewer people realize that by cleaning their tongue as well, they could significantly improve their oral health even further.
The most commonly used methods to clean the tongue include –
- Tongue scraper
- Tongue brush
- Manual toothbrush
- Electric toothbrush
Although it is possible to clean your tongue with a manual or electric toothbrush, their bristles and head shapes just aren’t designed for cleaning the soft fleshy surface of the tongue. A better option is to choose a properly designed tongue cleaner that can effectively dislodge and remove the tongue coating without causing any discomfort.
Why you should clean your tongue.
We all take our tongues for granted but they are truly incredible organs that perform amazing tasks for us that we just couldn’t live without. The tongue works tirelessly to allow us to taste, eat, swallow and talk.
As amazing as the tongue is, it also has the ability to collect a huge amount of nasty smelling food debris and bacteria. The natural grooves and cracks on the tongue surface provide an excellent hiding place for large colonies of nasty bacteria.
In an ideal world, the tongue should be able to keep itself clean by bathing in a rich supply of healthy saliva, but for many people that is not the case. The tongue may not be able to keep itself clean because –
- A diet high in sugar and processed foods can cause the mouth to become acidic and more prone to a buildup of bacteria.
- Medications can cause the mouth to become too dry to provide enough saliva to clean the teeth and tongue adequately.
- Smoking can irritate and inflame the tongue and often cause a coating to build up on the tongue surface.
- Everyday stress can contribute to a dry mouth, leaving the mouth and tongue susceptible to an increase in harmful bacteria.
- As we get older, our saliva glands just don’t produce the same amount of healthy cleansing saliva that they used to.
Regular, correct cleaning of the tongue has numerous benefits, that include:
- Improved sense of taste
- Removes plaque covering the tongue
- Reduces bacterial density in the mouth
- Help promote oral and possibly digestive
- Fresher breath
Correct Way To Clean The Tongue
Using A Toothbrush
When it comes to cleaning the tongue, the most common tool used is by far the toothbrush. This is completely fine, as long as you practice proper cleaning technique. Not sure if your method is up to scratch? Here are a few simple pointers to get you back on track:
- The best time to clean your tongue is while brushing your teeth, as toothpaste is an effective cleaner.
- To perform, pass the bristles of your brush in a downward direction on your tongue, starting from the back and proceeding to the tip of your tongue.
- It is important not to clean in the opposite direction, as you will only be introducing bacteria and plaque further into the mouth.
- Repeat strokes for as often as your gag reflex can safely handle.
- Finally, rinse your mouth with water and enjoy your new tongue! (Not really, but it feels that way!)
Using A Tongue Scraper
A tongue scraper is an ingenious little device that is especially useful to persons who are incapable of dealing with the abrasion of using a toothbrush, or in cases when the tongue is inflamed or sore. A tongue scraper is extremely cheap and can be picked up at your local pharmacy. A tongue scraper is made of soft plastic normally, with a loop opening that is used to remove plaque and residue from the tongue.
To use a tongue scraper:
- Apply gentle pressure to the tongue, and pull in a direction from back to the tip.
- Rinse off residue on the scraper and repeat
- Finish off with brushing and optional rinsing with mouthwash
For Best Results:
- Clean your tongue at least once daily, with twice daily or after each meal being superior choices.
- Know your limits, you don’t need to violently clean your tongue to the extent of puking. Just be sure to complete a few strokes to allow sufficient cleaning.
- Back Off Sometimes, occasionally, your tongue may become sore or tender to touch. If this happens, back off a bit and allow healing to ensue.
Cleaning your tongue should be prioritized every time you brush your teeth. After a few weeks of deliberate, consistent cleaning sessions, it will become second nature and habitual. Though you may not immediately notice any difference, your breath will become significantly better (bye bye halitosis).
All this from a little tongue cleaning so be sure to give yours the attention it deserves today!