Did you know that at any given moment, you have millions of bacteria living in your mouth? Bacteria exist on every surface in the mouth, including the surfaces we know of, such as our teeth and gums and lesser thought of surfaces such as the tongue and cheeks. It is essential to have a well-rounded oral hygiene regimen that including reducing bacteria in these infrequently cleaned areas.
The tongue harbours loads of bacteria because it’s a rough surface filled with thousands of taste buds, called papilla. If examined underneath a microscope, the surface of the tongue appears as many hills and valleys. Bacteria are easily trapped between the microscopic papilla and stick around. In addition, the act of tooth brushing can clear plaque away from the teeth and gums but transfer it onto the tongue with the help of the saliva. It is important to clean your tongue at least once a day.
Signs/ symptoms of bacteria accumulation on the tongue are:
- A yellow, white or grey discolouration of the tongue
- Bad breath, called malodour
- Altered or reduced taste
- A metallic taste in the mouth
How to Clean Your Tongue
There are several tools you can choose between to clean your tongue. The most important aspect of a tongue cleaner is its ability to clean between the papilla/ taste buds thoroughly. Some manual toothbrushes are built with a tongue scraper on the reverse side of the bristles. Other tongue cleaners contain bristles or corrugated plastic. The best way to clean the tongue is to drag or scrape the tongue cleaner from the back of the tongue to the front several times in a row with rinsing in between. It is important to clean out and rinse your tongue cleaner after each use. Only use your tongue cleaner on the top surface of your tongue. The underside of the tongue is a delicate tissue that should not be brushed or scraped.
In addition to using a tongue cleaner, you should also use an alcohol-free mouthwash to help reduce oral bacteria. Mouthwash helps to clean smooth surfaces of your mouth, such as your cheeks and palate. If you have any questions about how to clean your tongue, or if you still notice bad breath or a coating even after tongue cleaning, please call us today to schedule an appointment.