When it comes to brushing, the majority of people only brush their teeth. Whilst this is an incredibly important factor in maintaining good oral and dental health, solely brushing your teeth will not get rid of all the harmful bacteria in your 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, as they live and breed on the tongue’s rough surface. Although brushing your teeth eliminates bacteria clinging to your teeth, the bacteria on your tongue will transfer to your teeth over a few hours. Eliminating these bacteria prevents them spreading, and helps to prevent bad breath.
Brushing your tongue is simple. Buy a tongue cleaning tool, or use a teaspoon for an easily accessible tongue cleaning device. Using a metal tongue cleaner will prevent your gag reflex from taking effect. You can use a toothbrush, 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.
Scrape the tongue gently but firmly from the root of the tongue towards the tip several times, making sure to wash any residue on the tool off afterwards to remove any bacteria or lingering smell. As most of the food and bacterial debris is at the back of the tongue, make sure to scrape from there for maximum cleaning. However, be careful not to scrape too hard – this may damage your tongue, which could take a couple of days to heal.
After scraping your tongue, rinse your mouth out with mouthwash to wash away any remaining residue. However, be careful with what mouthwash you use. Though most work well, they can do more harm than good as they can burn and irritate your tongue/taste buds and inflame them. Make sure to buy a gentle mouthwash to prevent this.
Make sure to clean your tongue at least once a day, if possible in the morning before eating or drinking, for ideal oral health.