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Can Tongue Brushing Improve Oral Hygiene?

A good oral hygiene regimen often includes tooth brushing multiple times a day along with flossing but did you know there is more you could be doing? While brushing and flossing are very effective adding tongue brushing to your regimen can kick your dental hygiene into high gear. Neglecting to brush your tongue at least once per day can leave behind a lot of harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth decay, periodontal disease, and even bad breath. Our tongues provide a perfect environment for bacteria to live and grow. It has a rough surface allowing the bacteria to hide and prosper. This bacteria if left alone will spread throughout your mouth even if you constantly brush.

Will Tongue Cleaning Improve Our Breath?

Tongue brushing will be an effective way to maintain clean, fresh breath. Gum, mints, and mouthwashes only mask or hide our bad breath for a short period of time. The key to eliminating bad breath (halitosis) is to eliminate the oral bacteria causing it.

The correct steps for tongue cleaning include:

-Choosing The Right Tool For The Job. You have three choices for cleaning your tongue.

1. Tongue Scraper. A tongue scraper is the traditional method for properly cleaning the tongue. Tongue scrapers can be made from plastic or metal. Simple to use, place the edge of the tool on the back of your tongue, and gently pull the scraper forward gently removing bacteria and food debris.

2. Standard Toothbrush. The disadvantage of using a regular toothbrush on the tongue is that the bristles are designed to clean the smooth surfaces of your teeth. Your tongue is a rough surface with many tiny crevices, and regular toothbrush bristles may not do a thorough cleaning job. Recent research studies have shown that a standard toothbrush reduced bad breath by 45 % while a tongue scraper reduced it by almost 75 % The study measured levels of volatile sulfur compounds in the mouth).

3. Tongue Brush with bristles designed to clean out the crevices of the tongue.

Using Your Tongue Cleaner

Tongue cleaning can be done before or after brushing. It is important to be gentle as our tongues can be quite sensitive. Steps should include:

-Begin by cleaning the back of your tongue, and work your way forward.

-Scrape and clean the entire top and side surfaces of your tongue, not just the center.

-If you use a tongue brush, move it the same way you moved the tongue cleaner from the back of the tongue to the front of the tongue. You may have to use this method a few times in order to adequately clean your entire tongue.

-Rinse the tongue brush or tongue scraper off after each use it to remove bacteria and any food debris from the areas of the tongue you cleaned.

-Rinse your mouth after cleaning (preferably an antibacterial mouthwash like Listerine) your tongue.

Tongue Cleaning Conclusion

Maintaining good oral hygiene can have long lasting health effects. Adding tongue cleaning to this regimen will only improve your oral hygiene as well as freshen your breath. Speak to your dentist if you need any further tongue cleaning tips.

© 2015, Marielaina Perrone DDS. All rights reserved. Henderson Cosmetic Dentist

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