Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria. While daily brushing and flossing is a great way to clean your teeth and improve your mouth's overall health, it doesn't remove the bacteria that collects on your tongue. This bacteria can produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), leading to bad breath. Bad breath is also associated with certain health issues.
There are three tools to choose from when it comes to cleaning your tongue:
- Tongue Scraper
- Tongue Brush
The tool of choice for most - a tongue scraper is a great way to clean the tongue. Today, you can buy scrapers made of metal or plastic. Place the edge of the tool on the back of your tongue and gently pull the scraper forward. This tongue cleaning method has been shown to remove odor-causing bacteria better than cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush.
Your toothbrush is a convenient tool that you can use to remove bacteria from your tongue. However, toothbrushes may not do as good a job at cleaning the tiny crevices on the surface of the tongue as a tongue scraper can do. Some toothbrushes are designed to have bristles on one side of the toothbrush head to clean the teeth and a special brush on the other side to clean the tongue.
A tongue brush is a specialty oral brush with bristles designed to clean out the tongue's small crevices. This relatively recent invention is very effective at removing odor-causing bacteria comparable to a traditional tongue scraper. Today, you can even find combination products, which have a toothbrush on one side and a tongue brush on the other.
A tongue scraper can be used to clean your tongue either before or after you brush your teeth. Your tongue is sensitive, so it's essential to be gentle and not press the cleaner too forcefully into your tongue. Here are a few more general cleaning tips:
- Rinse your tongue cleaner before and after using it to remove bacteria and food debris.
- Start cleaning at the back of your tongue, then pull your way to the front of the tongue.
- Don't just clean down the center of your tongue. It is essential to scrape and clean the entire top and side surfaces as well.
- If you use a tongue brush, move it the same way recommended for the tongue scraper, from the back of the tongue to the tongue's front, while caring for the sides and center of your tongue. You may have to use this method a few times to clean your entire tongue adequately.
- Rinse the tongue brush or tongue scraper off after using it to remove bacteria and any food debris from the areas of the tongue you cleaned.
- Rinse your mouth after cleaning your tongue.
Tongue cleaners are an inexpensive way to boost oral hygiene while helping to prevent bad breath. While using a tongue scraper may be a new venture for some, cleaning your tongue as part of your daily oral care routine can reinforce good oral habits and help improve your mouth's freshness.