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Help Your Teeth: Take Care of Your Tongue

By: Dr. Ratti Handa on March 1st, 2017

There is so much emphasis on clean teeth—but what about the tongue?

Why is a clean tongue so important?

We all know that bacteria can collect on teeth over time, hiding in crevices and hardening into plaque and tartar. But consider the tongue—tongues are covered in tiny bumps called papillae. Within the valleys of these bumps dead skin cells, bacteria and food particles are likely to collect. Our saliva may coat and trap this debris, causing bad breath or even halitosis (white discoloration of the tongue).

Kinda gross, right? Do not despair and read on!

How to properly clean your tongue

There isn’t much to it, really. There are 2 basic methods: brushing and scraping. Brushing is the easiest method to work into your regular routine. Gently brush your tongue from the back to front after you’ve already cleaned your teeth. Having a little toothpaste in the mix is helpful, allowing you to reap the protective benefits. It’s also helpful to brush the inside of your cheeks and roof of the mouth to get everything nice and clean before rinsing.

If you are looking for slightly deeper clean, try a tongue scraper. These are inexpensive devices that you can find online or in drug stores. To use a scraper, stick out your tongue and glide the device across the surface of your tongue with even pressure, back to front. Rinse and repeat!

What if tongue cleaning triggers a gag reflex?

Some of us have very sensitive gag reflexes (this is very common, by the way). If you are one of these people, try cleaning your tongue very slowly and methodically so that you can adjust to the sensation. One trick of the dental trade is to stick out your tongue and when you’re about to reach the sensitive part, relax the tongue while exhaling completely. Exhaling can counteract that troublesome gag impulse!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We would love to see you!

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The information presented here is not intended or implied to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should be used for informational purposes only.