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How to Clean Your Tongue to Avoid Bad Breath

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Brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day is great for optimal oral health. But what about your tongue? Cleaning your tongue thoroughly as part of your regular dental routine can leave you feeling even more refreshed. Let's jump in to discover how cleaning your tongue can improve your breath and gain tips on simple tongue cleaning techniques.

Why Should You Clean Your Tongue?

While brushing your teeth and flossing take care of bacteria and debris, a large amount still remains in your mouth. Throughout the day, food debris and bacteria collect on your tongue, coating it in a mucus-like substance. A 2018 study in the Journal of Periodontal Research, found that participants who cleaned their tongue with a toothbrush or scraper had significantly less of that coating on their tongue. The participants who cleaned their tongue felt their tongues were cleaner at the end of the 2 weeks! Adding just a few extra seconds to your daily oral care routine removes bacteria in your mouth, reducing bad breath also known as halitosis.

The easiest way to clean your tongue is to use your soft-bristled toothbrush, and tongue scraper can do the job too. Typically a tongue scraper is soft, with flexible plastic that gently peels away the thin layer of debris and mucus-like coating from your tongue. There are other types of tongue scrapers made of stainless steel or other materials to choose from to meet all your tongue cleaning needs.

How to Clean Your Tongue with a Tongue Scraper

Cleaning your tongue should not be painful. Follow these tips for cleaning your tongue easily and quickly:

  • Place the scraper at the back of the tongue and pull the tool forward to the front of your tongue.
  • Move the scraper across your tongue multiple times at different angles.
  • Remove the excess food or debris from your tongue by rinsing your mouth with water.
  • Remove or rinse the tongue scraper each time you use it to keep it sanitary and clean.

How to Brush your Tongue

  • Put a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush.
  • Start at the back of your tongue and brush your way forward.
  • Use gentle but firm pressure in back-and-forth motions, just like brushing your teeth.

After cleaning your tongue, whether with a toothbrush or scraper, use a mouth rinse. Then, clean the scraper or toothbrush with water. How do you check your tongue cleaning technique? You'll know you're finished cleaning your tongue because all that discoloured debris disappears, leaving your tongue clean, pink, and refreshed. If you're still unsure on the effectiveness of your technique, check with your dental hygienist for tips and a demonstration.

How Often Should I Clean My Tongue?

Bacteria grow fast. The best way to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth is to clean your tongue twice daily after you brush your teeth. Removing that debris from your tongue before bedtime can also help reduce bad morning breath and get rid of it when you wake up.

Making a habit of cleaning your entire mouth, including your tongue, will keep your breath fresh and keep your mouth healthy. It helps avoid bad breath, and makes for a great oral health experience.