Like many people in Hendricks County, you probably brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, but do you brush your tongue, too? Tongue cleaning involves using a toothbrush or a tongue scrapper to clean the upper surface of your tongue. In addition to fighting bad breath, tongue cleaning can help control several other oral health conditions as well.

Your Tongue Is a Target for Bacteria

Over 700 different types of bacteria live in your mouth, and they love to accumulate on your tongue. Your tongue is covered papillae, which house your taste buds. The papillae look like tiny bumps, which give your tongue its rough texture. Bacteria love to hide in the crevices of the papillae, where they can cause oral problems and disease. Some of these noticeable conditions include:

  • Halitosis – Bad breath is the biggest problem associated with not brushing your tongue. When the bacteria on your tongue become overgrown, they can give off a foul odor. Tongue cleaning can help remove the bacteria and significantly reduce your bad breath. However, bacteria love to lurk on the back of your tongue, too. So, make sure you clean back there also.
  • Black Hairy Tongue – The papillae on your tongue can become stained from leftover food or drink particles, like coffee or wine. If these particles aren’t cleaned away, the debris can accumulate, causing a darker color to form that makes your tongue look like it’s black and furry. Heavy smokers (including those in Hendricks County) who never clean their tongues can develop black hairy tongue, too. While this condition is harmless, it can be unsightly. With daily tongue cleanings, it should disappear.
  • Oral Thrush – When the bacteria levels in your mouth get out of whack, naturally occurring yeast can grow out of control. This type of yeast infection causes white patches to develop on your tongue. In addition to antifungal medication, a regular tongue cleaning can keep oral thrush from returning.
  • Cavities and Gum Disease – A bacteria buildup on your tongue can spread to your teeth. You could develop cavities or red, inflamed gums, called gingivitis. If your gingivitis isn’t treated, you may develop periodontal disease, which causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, allowing the space in between to become infected. Severe gum disease may result in tooth loss. Daily tongue cleaning can help control bacteria, reducing your risk of cavities and gum disease.

Tongue Cleaning Physically Removes Bacteria

Unfortunately, the bacteria buildup in your mouth can’t be removed by simply drinking water or using mouthwash. When bacteria build up on your tongue, it sticks together to form a biofilm. When your drink water or use mouthwash, only the bacteria in the outer layers of the biofilm are removed. The bacteria on the surface of your tongue still survive. Because of this, you must physically remove the bacteria by brushing or cleaning your tongue. To clean your tongue, you can use a tongue cleaner to scrap the bacteria, food particles, and other gunk from your tongue. If you don’t have a tongue cleaner, you can use a toothbrush to gently scrub your tongue. Additionally, some toothbrushes have backs designed for tongue cleaning. You should clean your tongue at least once a day for a few minutes. However, twice a day is preferable.
Don’t forget to schedule regular dental exams and cleanings at Danville Family Dentistry. Dr. Jon Erickson will inspect your tongue during your exam to ensure it’s healthy. And, an oral cleaning will help keep your teeth sparkling clean. Contact our Hendricks County office at 317- 745-4400 to schedule an appointment today. In the meantime, remember to perform daily tongue cleanings to keep bacteria at bay.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.