Everyone knows that the key to good oral health lies in effective daily cleaning. According to a recent study carried out by Simply Health, around 70% of adults clean their teeth at least twice a day without fail. Among whom, the vast majority understand the importance of maintaining a good level of oral hygiene at all times. Nevertheless, it also seems that tongue cleaning is something that is commonly left out of the equation.
Research suggests that roughly 50% of adults don’t prioritise tongue cleaning, when looking after their oral health. For some, it’s an optional extra they include on a somewhat random basis. For others, it’s the kind of thing they forget about or don’t bother with routinely. Unfortunately, dentists across the UK are adamant that without effective tongue cleaning, it’s impossible to maintain optimum oral health and hygiene.
A Case of Common Sense
When you take the time to think about it, the whole argument surrounding tongue cleaning is a case of simple common sense. When you brush your teeth, you do so to give your whole mouth a thorough and hygienic clean. You (probably) also use a dentist recommended mouthwash. You might even go so far as to use a powered water flosser. If this is the case, your intention is clear – to give your entire mouth the best possible cleaning.
In which case, why overlook one of the biggest things in your mouth? Not only does your tongue occupy quite a lot of oral real estate, but it’s also one of the least hygienic parts of the entire human body. Or at least, that’s the case if it isn’t kept sufficiently clean.
For want of a better description, your tongue is a little like an organic sponge. All the time it’s sitting in your mouth, it gathers and absorbs more germs, bacteria and general nasties than you’d believe. Of course, the saliva in your mouth takes care of much of the issue on your behalf. Nevertheless, without regular and effective tongue cleaning, they’ll accumulate, multiply and potentially cause you a lot of problems.
That’s why we thought we’d take a closer look at tongue cleaning, by addressing some of the most common and important questions. So, for anyone who’s still unsure as to what tongue cleaning is all about, read on for an overview of this important yet routinely overlooked oral health essential:
What happens if you skip tongue cleaning?
If you skip tongue cleaning every now and again, the short answer is nothing. It’s not the kind of thing you’re going to pay a heavy price for, if you skip or forget it on occasion. However, if you fail to clean your tongue on a regular or ongoing basis, you’re inviting trouble.
Germs and bacteria can quickly build up across the entirety of the tongue, which can then also spread to your teeth and gums. From tooth decay to gum disease and so on, an unclean tongue significantly increases the likelihood of various oral health problems. What’s more, this aspect of oral hygiene is also one of the most common causes of bad breath.
If your tongue is unclean and unsanitary, all the brushing and flossing in the world isn’t going to help. A decent quality mouthwash can mask the problem temporarily, but it will be back soon enough. Fresh breath confidence cannot be achieved by brushing and flossing alone – you also need to take care of your tongue.
What can you use to clean your tongue?
These days, it’s neither difficult nor expensive to pick up the tools you need to keep your tongue clean. A huge proportion of regular manual toothbrushes now feature basic tongue cleaning devices on the back. There are also some electric toothbrushes that have special attachments and settings for effective tongue cleaning.
However, most dentists (and the NHS) recommend splashing out on a specially designed tongue cleaner. Also known as a tongue scraper, these simple yet effective devices are designed to quickly and comfortably remove bacteria from the tongue. They’re easy to use, cost next to nothing to purchase and really can make a huge difference.
You might not be able to see the germs and bacteria you’re getting rid of, but the feeling of freshness is worth the effort alone.
How do I use a tongue scraper?
According to the experts at Colgate, using a tongue scraper is easy enough for anyone to get to grips with. You simply position the scraper at the back of the tongue, before pulling it gently towards the front to remove excess debris and as much bacteria as possible.
After which, it’s a case of using a good quality antibacterial mouthwash to deal with the rest. Even the best tongue scraper cannot guarantee a 100% effective clean, so you need to combine your efforts. Nevertheless, introduce tongue cleaning to your oral health regime and you’ll be seeing and feeling a difference in no time.
How often should you clean your tongue?
Last but not least, reaching for a tongue cleaner once every couple of weeks or so simply isn’t enough. According to dental health experts in the UK, tongue cleaning is something that should be brought into your everyday oral health regime. Once a day is enough, and it doesn’t matter a great deal whether you clean your tongue in the morning or before bed.
However, many dentists recommend using a tongue cleaner before brushing and using mouthwash. This is because tongue cleaning releases potentially huge quantities of gems, bacteria and debris from the surface of the tongue. All of which you’ll then want to get rid of, which you’ll accomplish by brushing and flossing. If nothing else, you should always give your mouth a good rinse with antibacterial mouthwash, after cleaning your tongue.
If you’ve any questions or concerns regarding the state of your oral health, be sure to consult with a dentist at your earliest convenience. Particularly where issues as common as bad breath are concerned, it’s better to find a solution than to continue suffering in silence.