You brush your teeth, your brush your dog, you brush your hair and you may even give people the brush off. Should you also be brushing your tongue? Does it do anything besides make you feel a bit silly?
Brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper is often suggested as a way to eliminate bad breath and contribute to good dental health. Is it actually helpful? According to the Mayo Clinic, the answer is a strong “Maybe.” Research is limited, but tongue scraping or brushing is shown to help temporarily with the issue of bad breath, but there is not enough research at this point to determine if it helps with serious and persistent halitosis (the medical term for bad breath) as a home remedy.
How to Use a Tongue Scraper
In the case of a coated tongue, scrapers have been shown to be effective. Often caused by smoking, dry mouth, poor dental hygiene and the use of certain medications, coated tongue is a common problem. Scraping off accumulated bacteria helps give your mouth a “clean deck.” The proper use of a tongue scraper is this: starting as far back as you can without gagging, drag the tongue scraper a few times gently but firmly over your tongue towards the front. Clean your tongue scraper with water after each use as with your toothbrush. It’s a simple procedure, but remember that keeping your tongue scrubbed, with a scraper or brush, is just part of an entire routine of dental hygiene. To keep your whole mouth clean, fresh, good smelling, happy and healthy, your best bet is to do the following:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, and after meals whenever possible.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day.
- Brush or scrape your tongue with an approved device once a day.
- Drink lots of water to prevent dry mouth, a common factor in halitosis.
- Avoid sugary snacks and drinks that encourage the bacteria responsible for plaque and tartar.
- Schedule cleanings by a dental professional every six months.
Since it is such an important part of your mouth, you might as well keep your tongue clean! If you have questions about the state of your tongue, fear some type of more serious bacterial infection or simply have questions about your oral health, visit our Carmichael dentists at the Marconi Dental Group. We can help you and your tongue continue to work together for better oral hygiene.