When it comes to oral health, the focus is often on the health of teeth and gums. While this is an essential aspect of keeping good oral hygiene, one area that is often overlooked is the tongue. Our tongues play an important role in maintaining oral health as well as showing us signs of our general health. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at tongue health and the impact it has on oral hygiene.

The Tongue Surface

If you look closely at your tongue, you will notice it is covered in small bumps called papillae. These perform a variety of functions, including the physical sensations we feel on our tongue, such as sensing temperature, as well as harboring the taste buds that we use to sense flavor in food. If the tongue’s surface is not cleaned, old food particles and bacteria can sit on and between the papillae, causing oral health issues like bad breath.

Sometimes, you may notice a coating over your tongue, again caused by a build-up of bacteria. If not cleaned, it can lead to problems like oral thrush or an uneven appearance, known as geographic tongue.

Why You Should Clean Your Tongue

Regular tongue cleaning removes the food and bacteria that can lead to oral health problems. It also improves your ability to taste food, so you enjoy food and drink more. When there are fewer bacteria on your tongue, it minimizes the chances of it passing around the mouth to the teeth and gums, helping to keep them healthier for longer.

How to Clean Your Tongue

One of the simplest ways to clean your tongue is to brush it gently when you clean your teeth. Use a small amount of toothpaste and work your way from the back to the front. In the mornings, this will remove much of the bacteria that has accumulated on your tongue overnight, and in the evening it will loosen any food particles that have built up throughout the day. Finish with a rinse of alcohol-free mouthwash.

There are also specialist tools available that can clean the tongue. A tongue scraper is made of flexible plastic and is scraped over the tongue’s surface to remove particles and bacteria. It may be a good option for those who suffer from a sensitive gag reflex, which can be triggered more readily by a toothbrush.

Cleaning your tongue is an easy habit to get into, and can be done every time you brush and floss your teeth. Once you get into the routine, it will become a normal part of your daily oral hygiene.

Keep Up With Dental Visits

Your dentist is an expert in oral health. During your dental visit, not only will they examine your teeth and gums, but they can provide helpful advice on keeping your tongue clean too. Regular appointments will ensure that you keep on top of your oral hygiene, and prevent problems from becoming more urgent issues in the future.

For more help and advice on oral health, our dentists in Maple Ridge are here to help. Get in touch with us today.