Most people know that brushing and flossing teeth is necessary to maintain healthy teeth, preventing cavities and tooth decay. Often times tongue brushing is discounted. However, tongue brushing is just as important for your overall dental hygiene.
Taking a step into history, many eastern cultures have paid close attention to tongue hygiene. In Chinese medicine, tongue inspection was thought to be a critical aspect of making medical diagnoses and determining prognosis. It has also been recorded that Native Americans took part in a daily ritual that not only involved teeth brushing, but also tongue scraping, followed by a mouth rinse of concoctions of various herbs. Rudimentary tortoise shell and bone inscriptions have been able to reveal thoughts on tongue hygiene that even date back to the 16th century BC!
There must be a reason why tongue hygiene has been integral in terms of determining health in various cultures. Studies have shown that keeping your tongue clean and healthy is, indeed, essential. Many microorganisms have been found to reside on the dorsum of the tongue. Scientists have found that tongue brushing can lead to the decrease in bacterial counts on the tongue. Bacteria have been found to colonize the tongue and periodontal packets, which influence the generation of sulfur compounds in periodontal health and disease. These are the very compounds that cause patients to have halitosis, or simply known as bad breath.
It is very easy to forget about brushing your tongue, but it gets easier when practiced on a daily basis. People also tend to shy away from tongue brushing because their gag reflex starts right up. Doctors recommend that the best time for tongue cleaning is in the morning on an empty stomach, to reduce the possibility of vomiting and gagging. It has also been suggested that gag reflex becomes more controlled with the continual cleaning of the tongue.
Here are a couple steps to get you on your way to tongue bushing!
1. Place the tongue as far out of the mouth as possible
2. Look for the locations where there is debris accumulation; unfortunately, this is usual towards the back of your tongue.
3. Place the tongue cleaner as far as possible and make contact with the flattened tongue.
4. Pull the tongue cleaner forward slowly to the front of the mouth, making sure to cover as much surface area as possible.
5. Rinse the tongue cleaner and repeat!
Tongue brushing can be a hassle in the beginning, but once it becomes routine, the difference in your oral health will be so noticeable. Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group will be happy to answer your questions about oral health and tongue brushing. Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment and consultation.
Christensen G. Why clean your tongue? J Am Dent Assoc 1998; 129: 1605–07.
Danser M. M., Gomez S. M., Van der Wejden, G. A. (2003). Tongue coating and tongue brushing: a literature review. 3:151-8.