ONE OF THE MAIN things people overlook about a daily oral hygiene routine is cleaning their tongues. That’s right, it doesn’t stop with brushing twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and flossing daily. The rough surface of the tongue makes it the perfect place for all kinds of bacteria to hide and build up. Among other things, that bacteria doesn’t help with keeping your breath smelling minty fresh.
Bacteria has an easier time building up on our tongues than just about anywhere else on our bodies. (Another germ hotspot is fingernails, which is just one reason we don’t recommend chewing them.) If we aren’t actively cleaning our tongues, harmful bacteria will stay there and multiply, resulting in bad breath and an increased risk of tooth decay on the inner surfaces of our teeth.
Having a lot of bacteria on your tongue can even impact your sense of taste, because it clogs things up and makes it hard for your tastebuds to do their job. Make a habit of cleaning your tongue every day and you might notice that you can enjoy the taste of your favorite foods even better! Finally, bacteria can get in the way of the chemical digestion process that begins as we chew our food. A clean tongue is better at helping the digestive process.
Cleaning your tongue is very easy, but it takes something besides swishing mouthwash, rinsing, or even brushing it with your toothbrush (which mostly just moves bacteria around instead of cleaning it off). All it takes is a couple of passes with a tongue-scraper. You can order one online if there aren’t any at your grocery store by the toothbrushes and floss. They are typically made of plastic or stainless steel, and you can get one with a rough or smooth edge depending on your preference.
When using a tongue-scraper, don’t push hard enough to injure your tongue, but also don’t be alarmed if the first time you use it, it comes away with a lot of weird, smelly gunk. This is the biofilm of bacteria and food particles that builds up over time. It won’t take many days before you should start to notice less and less biofilm coming off on the scraper. That’s a sign that it’s working, so don’t stop!
If you’re new to tongue cleaning, welcome to the club! We’re happy to answer any questions you have and give you tips if you’re not sure you’re doing it right. We can also recommend good tongue scrapers if you’re not sure which one to get.