Do you need to brush your tongue?

Posted by KINGS DENTAL GROUP on Mar 22 2021, 10:12 PM

Everyone knows the importance of brushing their teeth and flossing daily. But many of us often neglect to brush our tongue during our oral care routine. While most people think that brushing teeth and flossing afterward is enough to care for the mouth, dentists say that cleaning the tongue should also be an inevitable part of your regular oral care practices. Researches show that more than 700 different types of bacteria reside in our mouth, many of which are on our tongue. Unlike our teeth, the tongue is not smooth but contains bumps and ridges that host many stubborn bacteria. Food particles, bacteria, and sugars can get stuck in these parts of your tongue, making it necessary to take extra care of it.  If these bacteria are not removed properly, they can start to affect oral health negatively. 

What Happens if You Don't Brush Your Tongue?

Tongues consist of tons of tiny bumps called papillae which contain a large number of bacteria. If they aren't removed, they may cause many unwanted side effects. Here are some of the reasons why you should make brushing your tongue a regular habit.

  • Rinsing alone won't help remove the bacterial build-up on the tongue.

If you think brushing the teeth and rinsing out the mouth can kill all the bacteria, you are wrong. Rinsing alone won't touch the bacterial build-up on your tongue; you need to scrub it to remove it. The bacterial build-up on the tongue acts as a biofilm that sticks together on the tongue's surface. Mouth rinses can help kill only the top layer of the biofilm; brushing the tongue is the only way to kill the inner layers of bacteria.

  • Your tongue may make your breath smell bad.

Ever wondered why your breath still smells bad after brushing and flossing? It might be because your tongue is still dirty, have poor oral hygiene, is coated in bacteria, you have a dry mouth,  or have a yeast infection. Brushing and scraping the tongue helps break up the bacterial build-up on the tongue, thus preventing the foul smell.

  • Tongue brushing works to reduce bacteria in the mouth.

As per various researches, brushing the tongue reduces the bacteria in your mouth. One study has proved that after three days of brushing the tongue, total bacteria on the tongue was found significantly reduced. After ten days, the number of bacteria was even lower; the more you scrap your tongue, the more you kill the bacteria in the tongue.

  • Tongue bacteria can affect your heart and brain.

Researches have shown that oral bacteria can harm blood vessels or contribute to blood clots and play a role in heart disease.  This occurs as the bacteria in the mouth release toxins similar to proteins found in the bloodstream or in artery walls. By responding to these toxins, the immune system could hurt your blood vessels or lead to inflammation in the rest of the body, including arteries. This inflammation could also contribute to a stroke or a heart attack. The mouth bacteria are also linked to Alzheimer's disease due to the inflammation of the central nervous system. This oral bacteria can be killed by brushing your teeth as well as tongue to keep the entire body healthy and free of inflammation.

  • Tongue bacteria can affect your sense of taste.

If you have bacterial build-up on your tongue, it could affect your sense of taste too. This happens as a result of the build up of bacteria over the taste buds, which makes them become less sensitive. 

  • Oral bacteria can lead to yeast infection in your mouth.

Yeast infections can occur wherever bacterial is present in your body. The mouth is no exception. If you have white patches on your tongue, it can be a sign of a yeast infection. Brushing and scrubbing the tongue regularly helps reduce the bacteria that cause a yeast infection.

How to clean your tongue? 

Read on to know more about how to properly clean the tongue to reduce the risk of bad breath, inflammation, and yeast infections.

To start, you can either use a tongue scraper or a toothbrush with a tongue scraper on the back. After brushing the teeth well with toothpaste and rinsing well, apply more toothpaste to your toothbrush and scrub your tongue back and forth as well as side to side, thus covering all areas of the tongue. Do not scrub so hard; it won't get more bacterial off your tongue but can cause your tongue bleeds. After this, rinse your mouth as you normally would.

Repeat this process whenever you brush your teeth. Follow up with an antibacterial rinse to help keep all areas of your mouth clean. 

Be careful when cleaning your tongue. 

When you first scrape or brush your tongue, you might have a gag reflex. The chance of such a reaction can be reduced by extending your tongue and cleaning the portion toward the front teeth. Brushing or cleaning the back portion of the tongue might cause a gag reflex that makes you uncomfortable. Trying a metal tongue cleaner can help eliminate the gag reflex and makes the tongue thoroughly clean. 

Therefore, brushing your tongue is a critical step in making sure you're caring for your overall oral health. Of course, visiting your dentist at Kings Dental Group for regular dental checkups at least every six months is also necessary. 

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