Although most of us understand the importance of brushing and flossing twice a day, or more ideally -- following each meal, doing so can still leave bacteria to linger on your tongue. As opposed to your teeth, the surface of your tongue is rough and full of countless peaks and grooves that are perfect for pesky bacteria to fester and flourish. For this reason, your tongue harbors much more bacteria than your teeth. And regularly brushing your tongue can contribute to good dental health, as well as help to combat bad breath.
The bacteria that settle and thrive on your tongue can transfer to your teeth with ease, resulting in damage or producing foul-smelling breath. Although often caused by dental problems like gingivitis and tooth decay, bad breath is often the result of a build-up of bacteria on the tongue. Lacking smoothness, the tongue’s crevices, and elevations provide ideal locations for bacteria to hide. Unless removed, this bacteria will remain, significantly accumulating between the taste buds and other tongue structures. Unfortunately, this build-up is not just harmless saliva. Instead, “it’s a biofilm or a group of microorganisms that stick together on the surface of the tongue.” And ridding your tongue of this biofilm requires more than merely rinsing with mouthwash or drinking a glass of water.
You may have noticed your tongue turn red after drinking a glass of red wine or brown after drinking a cup of coffee. When you use mouthwash following your consumption of such a beverage, it only destroys the biofilm’s outer cells, leaving bacteria lingering on the tongue. The bacteria cells beneath the outer cells continue to grow, and the discoloration of your tongue persists. Thus, it is necessary to remove bacteria physically. And this can be done by brushing or cleaning the tongue.
After you’ve wholly and conscientiously brushed your teeth, your focus should then be on cleaning your tongue. By brushing your tongue, you can remove the bacteria at both the tongue’s front and back. Even though the front of the tongue more or less cleans itself, thoroughly cleaning the back of the tongue is crucial.
To start, place a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush. Begin at the back and move forward while scrubbing side-to-side, as well as up and down. Finally, rinse your mouth with water. However, it is imperative to be careful not to brush too vigorously as this may break the tongue’s skin. Alternatively, you may use a tongue scraper, but the bristles of a toothbrush are sufficient for most individuals. Moreover, according to the American Dental Association, there is no evidence supporting tongue scrapers’ ability to prevent bad breath.
Brushing your tongue should become a part of your regular, everyday oral hygiene routine. For the best results, individuals are advised to clean their tongue a minimum of twice daily, typically in the morning and before bedtime. Nevertheless, if your mouth is dry or you have foul-smelling breath at midday, brushing your tongue again may offer some much-needed relief. And cleaning your tongue can be easily integrated into your daily dental regimen, improving your overall dental health.
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