While a predominant feature in the mouth, many people forget to include their tongue in their regular dental care routine. Even after you brush and floss, your tongue harbors enough bacteria to cause you breath and tooth problems. Here is how to make sure that your dental hygiene is as effective as it can be.
Your Tongue and Bacteria
The tongue contains tiny bumps, called papillae, which are used to grip food and move it around in your mouth. The bumps and ridges on your tongue provide hiding places for food and bacteria. Cleaning your tongue removes the bacteria that can cause bad breath and tooth decay. Brushing and scraping are the common ways of getting rid of the bacteria on your tongue.
Brushing Your Tongue
After you finish brushing your teeth, run the toothbrush across the surface of the tongue. Get as far back as you can and along the sides. You don't need to brush the underside of the tongue as bacteria can't hold on to the slippery surface. Brushing for a few seconds is sufficient to remove most of the bacteria on your tongue.
Some people have trouble brushing their tongue because of an active gag reflex. If this is the case, then you can try the tongue scraping approach.
Scraping Your Tongue
Your dentist can recommend a tongue scraping tool and show you the proper way to use it. These tools are normally a flat blade that you pull across the surface of the top and sides of the tongue. After scraping a few times, spit out the bacteria-filled saliva you scraped off and then rinse your mouth.
Cleaning the Coating Off of Your Tongue
The white coating on your tongue is from bacteria, food and old cells. You can gently try to remove the coating, but don't be too rigorous or you'll irritate the surface.
- Gently brush your tongue with toothpaste to get it coated.
- Scrape the toothpaste off of the tongue with the scraping tool.
- Rinse your mouth and repeat.
Stop if you see some improvement, but don't expect to remove the entire coating without irritating your tongue. The coating will fade throughout the day.
Use the Right Mouthwash
Make sure that your mouthwash is an anti-microbial type. This will also reduce the bacteria in your mouth and on your tongue that cause bad breath. If you frequently fight bad breath, ask your family dentist for a prescription-strength mouthwash that will kill more of the bacteria. Dentists like Michael C. Cordora DDS, PLLC, may be able to meet your needs in this area.