Boisson dental - Oral hygiene tips: How to clean your tongue - General Dentistry in Grande Prairie, AB

Most of us are aware of the importance of daily brushing, flossing, and regular dental check up appointments. You may even have had a good natured lecture from your dentist if you tend to skip flossing from time to time! However, an aspect of oral hygiene that many patients neglect is the tongue. You may be unsure of how to clean your tongue or why doing so is important. Your tongue is an important little muscle that deserves a bit of attention too! Read on to learn more about your tongue and how to keep  it clean.

Fun facts about the tongue:

  • The tongue is covered in tiny bumps called papillae, which are what give the tongue its rough texture. The taste buds are mostly too small to be seen, and are overtop of the papillae.
  • We each have about 10,000 taste buds! Taste buds aren’t just found on the tongue either; they can be all over the mouth and in the throat as well.
  • Your tongue is actually a series of intertwined muscles, not just one muscle. It is made of 8 muscles. While your tongue is strong, it’s not the strongest muscle in your body, contrary to popular belief.
  • Everyone’s tongue is different. Tongues have their own print, much like fingers and toes do. No two are alike!

Why cleaning your tongue is important:

Quit simply, plaque and bacteria can build up on the tongue too, not just the teeth. If you never brush your tongue, you are leaving behind a lot of plaque and food debris in your mouth after brushing. This plaque, food and bacteria can then be transferred to the teeth, which will contribute to decay and gingivitis. Having an unclean tongue and can also worsen halitosis, or bad breath. Have you ever noticed a white coating on your tongue? This is caused by the overgrowth of bacteria, which in turn causes the papillae on the surface of the tongue to swell. This condition can easily be prevented by regularly cleaning the tongue.

How to clean your tongue:

Now that you know why you should be cleaning your tongue, it’s  valuable to know how to do it effectively. Many people opt to simply use a toothbrush to “brush” their tongue while they’re brushing their teeth. This approach will work fine, and is definitely better than not cleaning your tongue at all. However, the bristles in your toothbrush were designed to clean your teeth and gums, not the bumpy and sensitive area of your tongue.

Products labeled as tongue scrapers or tongue brushes are specially designed to adequately clean your tongue without irritating it. You can easily find one of these products for under $10 in the drug store. Simply look for the seal of approval from the Canadian or American Dental association on the package.