Did your parents ever threaten to wash your tongue with soap? While it won't cleanse your language, a regular tongue cleaning can help with your overall oral hygiene - just don't use soap!
Most people think they only need to worry about brushing and flossing, but properly caring for your tongue plays a vital role in controlling the bacteria causing bad breath and tooth decay. It can also help with your digestive health since your tongue is involved in the first stage of the digestive process.
What's on Your Tongue?
Your tongue is home to more bacteria than most places in your body, so daily cleaning is an excellent idea. It's primarily made of muscles, glands, and fat, all of which is wrapped up in a mucous membrane. The top of your tongue is called the dorsum, and it contains tiny papillae - nodes that hold your taste buds.
Those papillae structures also mean that your tongue isn't a flat surface. Instead, there are numerous cracks and crevices between the nodes, providing the perfect place for bacteria to hide and flourish. Those hiding spaces also make it difficult for mouthwashes and rinsing to effectively clean your tongue, which is why special tools are needed to really clean it well.
Tongue cleaning is actually a long-standing and ancient practice in some cultures in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. For instance, Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, includes tongue-scraping as part of its daily recommended hygiene practices.
Throughout history, in different parts of the world, various tools for cleaning the tongue have been created from materials like metals, ivory, whalebone, and more. Today, those tools are most often made from plastic or stainless steel, and they can be found at your local store in the same aisle as other dental care products.
How to Clean Your Tongue
The best time to clean your tongue is after brushing your teeth but before you rinse out the toothpaste. The best method is to use a tongue scraper. Just stick out your tongue, place the rounded end of the tool as near to the back of your tongue as you can bear, and then slowly pull it forward. Rinse the tool and repeat as needed to clean the entire surface of your tongue. Make sure to use less pressure next time if your tongue feels sore afterwards.
Tongue cleaning is best practiced at least once daily, alongside regularly brushing and flossing. If you have any questions, we are always your best source of information and can provide you with guidance on the kind of tools and techniques that will work best for you.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
© Aalam Samsavar DDS and www.drsamsavar.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.