When it comes to brushing, most people focus solely on their teeth. However, without realizing you might be neglecting another important habit to keep your mouth healthy. Your tongue is regarded as the most forgotten place to get cleaned. We are taught the importance of brushing and flossing our teeth from a very young age, but more often than not, we neglect the importance of brushing our tongues.
The tongue is the mirror to all the organs of the body, and thus, a daily look at the tongue prior to scraping gives you a clue to your general health. During sleep when the body is resting, the digestive system works to detoxify itself. These toxins are deposited on the surface of the tongue via the internal excretory channels, and are responsible for the coating usually seen on the tongue first thing in the morning.
The film that develops on your tongue while you sleep is a good indicator of what’s going on inside your body. The bacteria and fungi on the tongue are related to many common oral care and general health problems and can be a leading cause of bad breath for many.
While brushing your teeth is an incredibly important factor in maintaining good oral health and in preventing gum disease and tooth decay, solely brushing your teeth will not eliminate all the harmful bacteria in the mouth. To gain the best oral health possible, it is important to brush your tongue as well as your teeth.
The majority of the bacteria in your mouth are harboured on your tongue. When we sleep, our digestive system remains awake, removing toxins from our body by depositing them onto the surface of our tongue. Bacteria from the environment as well as from the food and beverages you consume live and breed on the rough surface of your tongue. If a thick coating is noted, you are accumulating toxicity. If we don’t scrape away these toxins, they get reabsorbed by the body and can lead to respiratory difficulties, digestive problems, and a compromised immune system.
Although brushing the teeth eliminates the bacteria clinging to your teeth. Brushing our teeth actually breaks up the plaque that forms in everyone’s mouth, rather than removing germs. Bacteria, which are always present, colonize the food particles that remain in your mouth after eating. The accumulation of food and bacteria produces plaque, which takes approximately twenty-four hours to form. Thorough brushing at least twice a day keeps the bacteria from sticking, that’s the key to healthy teeth.
The bacteria from your tongue will just transfer to your teeth again over the period of a few hours as your tongue is uneven, which makes it easy for bacteria to hide. To get rid of bacteria, you need to physically scrape them off.
Brushing the tongue removes the bacteria hiding in the nooks and crannies of its surface. Removing these bacteria not only helps to prevent the bacteria from spreading to the teeth, but it also helps to prevent bad breath.
The correct way to brush the tongue is to brush the entire surface of your tongue, both on top and underneath. Then, rinse thoroughly to get rid of the food particles and bacteria. If brushing your tongue triggers your gag reflex, use a tongue scraper/cleaner instead. But be careful to brush away from your mouth, as you don’t want to rub the dirt back into your tongue, and make sure you get a soft toothbrush so you don’t hurt your tongue.
However, toothbrushes are not as effective as tongue cleaners, as the bristles are made for cleaning the hard enamel of your teeth, not the soft muscle of your tongue.
Although brushing and flossing will loosen and move debris around, they do not actually remove the bacteria. Almost half of our oral bacteria live on and in the deep crevices of our tongue; the scraping action of a tongue scraper collects these toxic tongue coatings (bacteria, food debris, fungi, toxins, and dead cells which can range in color from clear, white, yellow, or green) and removes them from the body.
Now in dental clinics in India, dentists are making it a point to explain the importance of tongue cleaning which is often neglected.
Make sure to clean your tongue at least twice a day, for ideal oral health. After you finish cleaning your tongue, make sure you rinse your mouth out once or twice with clean, cool water to remove any leftover debris.
Cleaning your tongue should be a part of your daily routine, and here is why:
- A certain type of bacteria called biofilm makes up a large amount of the bacteria in your mouth. By removing bacteria and toxins, you are also contributing to better dental health as well, leading to healthier teeth and gums. The bacteria and toxins that you remove from your tongue are responsible for things like periodontal problems, plaque build-up, tooth decay, gum infections, gum recession, and even loss of teeth. Biofilm lives on your tongue in the spaces and ridges you cannot see. Brushing or mouthwash alone will not remove these bacteria, which is why it’s important to clean your tongue.
- Did you know that many people who suffer from bad breath only have this issue because of the bacteria build up on their tongue? Removing the bacteria, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the tongue significantly reduces the odor from the mouth.The rearmost section of the tongue, in particular, tends to accumulate bacteria that can cause this bad breath. The front section of the tongue, unlike the back section, tends to be more mobile and better at naturally cleaning itself. Cleaning your tongue to get rid of the biofilm will create a healthier, fresher environment for your teeth. It will also help with the embarrassment and strain bad breath puts on your social life. Simply removing this layer of bacteria will reduce your bad breath significantly.
- Without the issue of bad breath, it is still important to clean your tongue. The bacteria left behind on your tongue when it isn’t brushed contribute significantly to the growth of bacteria on your teeth, which can cause cavities and tooth decay. The bacteria will erode the enamel on your teeth, and will make them susceptible to decay and other problems such as gum disease.
- Proper digestion begins with taste and salivation. If you don’t take steps to remove toxic mucus on the tongue, your taste buds can become blocked. Taste buds cover the tongue, with each taste bud made up of taste cells. At the tip of every taste cell is a receptor. When the receptor is coated with debris, it is hampered in doing its job. This may lead to false cravings or an inability to recognize the taste of food. Removing build-up from the surface of your tongue will open up its pores and better expose your taste buds, allow for greater enjoyment of food flavors, and help your body digest and assimilate food.
- The tongue is part of the first line of defense in your immune system. Scraping your tongue prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into your body and boosts overall immune function.
- As you sleep, your body is detoxifying. Much of the film on your tongue is toxins excreted from your body. And you don’t want to re-ingest that. Scraping your tongue first thing in the morning will avoid toxins being reabsorbed into your body and remove this sludge from your tongue and from your body, improving your overall health and improving your immune system.
- Brushing or scraping the tongue can help remove particles before they turn into a fungal infection.
- Eliminating bacteria at the source prevents it from traveling down your throat; this can help prevent strep throat and or cold symptoms from making you sick.
- Tiny blood vessels in your mouth called capillaries can serve as a direct pathway for microbes to enter your bloodstream. Keeping your tongue clean staff off stroke and heart disease and can help stop bacteria in its tracks.
- Good oral care goes much further than just the mouth; just as bacteria can travel down the throat, it is also capable of entering the stomach, causing digestive disorders like indigestion or ulcers.
- Soft plaque is composed of bacterial by products which are produced by the tongue and move to the teeth. If soft plaque is not cleaned within 12 hours, it becomes hard plaque. Regular tongue care can greatly reduce the threat of both plaque types.
Rather than dealing with these problems down the road, you can add about 30 seconds to your daily routine to clean your tongue and reduce the amount of bacteria present.
Dentist in Delhi, after completing the oral prophylaxis explain the proper tongue cleaning technique to the patients. In some dental clinics in Delhi, the tongue scrapers are available for sale in the clinic itself, for patient convenience.
How to clean your tongue?
Tongue scraping should be done on a regular basis, preferably in the morning. It involves using a long, thin, flat piece of metal (sometimes plastic), which is bent in the shape of a ‘U’, to scrape the surface of your tongue. To do this, extend the tongue and place the scraper as far back on the tongue as is comfortable. Gently scrape from the back or base of the tongue using one long stroke, until you have scraped the whole surface. Rinse the scraper and begin again. Scrape firmly, but gently. Do this until the tongue feels clean and is free of coating. Wash the scraper well after each use with hot water. When you first get started scraping your tongue, be extra gentle. Your tongue will get used to it quickly. You will be amazed at how much stuff comes off of your tongue in the morning.
- Make it a habit of cleaning the tongue on a regular basis to prevent bad breath as well as additional tongue and health problems. Cleaning the tongue removes foul smell, tastelessness and by taking out dirt coated on the tongue, teeth and mouth brings relish immediately.
- Don’t ever neglect oral hygiene, it is very necessary to our total well-being.
Posted By – Dr. Shriya