We’ve all been there: You’re going to an important event on Friday night where you’ll be talking to a lot of people. You’ve picked out your best outfit, your hair looks great and you’ve brushed and flossed before heading out the door. As soon as you arrive, however, you notice a sticky, not-so-fresh feeling in your mouth. But how could that be? You just brushed and flossed!
Now you can’t help but be a little self-conscious as you work the room and find yourself leaning in towards people to be heard during conversation. Despite your best efforts, you’re not sure if your breath is actually as fresh as you thought. If you’ve ever felt like this, a family dentist in Denton will explain why brushing your tongue is the crucial missing step your brushing routine.
What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Tongue?
If you could look at your tongue up-close, you’d see hundreds or even thousands of little “hairs,” in addition to a collection of bumps that are actually tastebuds. The tongue may look smooth, but you would be surprised at how many nooks and crannies are on its surface!
Unfortunately, this kind of texture provides the perfect hiding place for bacteria, which will stay on the surface of the tongue until they’re removed. If bacteria remain, they not only cause bad breath but also act as a source of bacteria for the entire oral cavity.
In particular, two strains of bacteria are especially harmful as they’re responsible for causing and gum disease. While brushing and flossing are effective for cleaning these bacteria from your teeth and gums, it still leaves them on the tongue’s surface where they can cause problems.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Your Tongue?
It’s natural to think you’re doing great with your hygiene regimen if you’re brushing and flossing regularly. You may even be using a mouthwash every day.
While a mouthwash is helpful, it only removes surface plaque and bacteria. It’s similar to washing your car. You could just use soap and water to spray it down, but it’s not going to get nearly as clean as if you used a brush or a sponge to physically clean the surface.
You have two main options to clean your tongue:
- Toothbrush – This is the simplest option! It only requires that you take some time after you’ve brushed your teeth for two minutes to gently scrub as much of your tongue surface as you can comfortably reach.
- Tongue Scraper – Some people prefer to use a tongue scraper to gently “scrape” their tongue after brushing each day. This tool is shaped just the right way to effectively remove as much bacteria from the tongue as possible.
By adding this small extra step to your homecare routine each day, you can have a healthier mouth and fresher breath with minimal effort!
About the Author
Dr. Ted Donnelly II, a graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry, is a local dentist in Denton who loves to help his patients take great care of their teeth at home. In his efforts to provide excellent dental care, he continually pursues advanced education and is actively involved in several professional dental associations. He can be reached for questions through his website, or at (940) 566-4942.