Do I need to clean my tongue?
October 22nd, 2021
The short answer is, “yes.”
You likely practise good daily oral hygiene such as brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing each day. But, have you ever thought about how dirty your tongue can be? Have you ever really looked at its colour?
Your tongue should be a healthy pink, fleshy colour. If it isn’t, it likely means there is debris on your tongue that when cleaned off the tongue surface will restore your tongue to its normal colour.
But, debris coating your tongue is only one part of the picture. Your tongue is full of bacteria.
While you likely know that some bacteria is very helpful for good oral health, not all bacteria are created equal. Anaerobic bacteria are the kind that doesn’t need oxygen to survive. It exists within the mouth and on the tongue and can produce by products like sulfur compounds which can smell bad …. really bad. Halitosis bad. So, while you will get rid of this kind of bacteria on your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing, it will remain on the tongue if the tongue is not cleaned.
As it turns out, brushing or scraping your tongue may help you get rid of that bad breath inducing bacteria that sticks to your tongue.
How to clean your tongue
Your toothbrush or a specially designed tool known as a tongue scraper can be used to clean your tongue.
A tongue scraper can be plastic or metal. It can have a rounded end attached to a handle or a V shape attached to a handle.
To use a tongue scraper:
- stick your tongue out as far as you can;
- place the tongue scraper as close as you can to the back of the tongue;
- press the scraper down on your tongue and apply some pressure as you pull it forward to the front of your tongue;
- clear any debris and bacteria from the tongue scraper by running it under warm water;
- spit out any saliva and debris; and
- continue scraping in different areas of the tongue always ensuring to scrape from the back to the front.
To use your toothbrush:
- stick out your tongue as far as you can;
- place your toothbrush as close as you can to the back of the tongue;
- brush lightly forward and backward along one area of your tongue;
- spit out any saliva and debris that appears during the brushing and rinse out the toothbrush with warm water; and
- repeat brushing in different areas of the tongue, spitting and cleaning the toothbrush.
You can clean your tongue each time you brush. If you do, you will have fresher breath, your mouth will feel cleaner than ever before, and you may even notice an improved sense of taste.