Cleaning your tongue can be an important part of your dental hygiene routine, and can help to remove plaque and toxins from the mouth. When performed regularly, bacteria build-up is inhibited, bad breath is reduced, and some patients experience an enhanced sense of taste because of a clean tongue. Let’s take a look at how to clean your tongue and what tools are available to help you.
What should you use to clean your tongue?
There are a variety of tools available to clean your tongue, and we will look at those below, but a good result can be produced simply by using your current toothbrush and regular toothpaste, depending on the level of cleaning needed. Using a combination of tools, in addition to your toothbrush, can sometimes produce the best results.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to advise you about the best methods to employ, and tools to use.
Tongue brush – a tongue brush is often located on the back of the head of a good-quality toothbrush, and will appear as a series of soft, plastic ridges. You can buy a dedicated tongue brush too.
Tongue scraper – these are available in different materials, such as copper, stainless steel, plastic and silicone. Metal scrapers can be easily sterilised and generally last longer than those made of other materials.
How to clean your tongue
If using your toothbrush, or a dedicated tongue brush, simply give your tongue a soft brush from back to front in long, firm sweeping motions. If you are prone to gagging, you may need to give yourself some time to do this, as the gag reflex is often triggered at the back of the tongue.
When using a tongue scraper, work with light pressure, as you are aiming for a gentle scrape that removes the thin layer of plaque and mucus from the tongue. Exerting too much pressure at this stage could lead to soreness or bleeding. Most harmful bacteria live in the centre of the tongue, so focus more on this area with either tool of choice.
Finish off by rinsing with plain water or mouthwash.
You can repeat this procedure after every brush and floss, for the best results and a clean tongue, but a minimum of once a week should suffice to keep your mouth clean and fresh, and to reduce significantly the likelihood of bad breath.