Do you clean your tongue when you brush your teeth? This is an important step in tooth decay prevention that many people overlook. Your tongue can trap food and bacteria, which ultimately leads to tooth decay. Read on to learn how to use tongue scrapers to protect your smile.
What Do Tongue Scrapers Do?
Most tongue scrapers are in the shape of an arc and have small points at the bottom to rake bacteria off your tongue. When you pull the scraper across your tongue, you remove the surface layer of bacteria. Studies show that tongue scrapers are effective at bacterial removal with repeat use, but they work best in conjunction with standard brushing and flossing practices.
In other words, tongue scraping alone is not effective at preventing tooth decay. You should add this practice to your oral hygiene routine but not rely on it as a replacement.
How to Clean Your Tongue with a Tongue Scraper
Most tongue scrapers cost less than $10, and you can use them for several months. Here are the basic steps for using a tongue scraper:
- Stick out your tongue.
- Run the scraper from the back of your mouth toward the front. Apply gentle pressure to scrape the surface of your tongue.
- Complete several passes along the top of your tongue, always moving from back to front. Rinse the tongue scraper between passes.
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash when you finish. Then complete your brushing and flossing routine.
You could scrape your tongue after you brush if you prefer. The order of events does not matter much. Incorporate this into your daily habits to keep your mouth as clean as possible.
Can I Use a Toothbrush to Clean My Tongue?
You can brush your tongue with a toothbrush, but using a tongue scraper may be more effective. The toothbrush may scrub bacteria deeper into the tongue, much like what you may see if you scrub a stain on your carpet. A tongue scraper pulls the bacteria off like a lint roller.
If your toothbrush has small bumps on the back of the head, you can use those bumps to clean your tongue.
Other Ways to Prevent Bad Breath and Tooth Decay
Do you battle with constant bad breath? This may signify a more pressing issue, like severe tooth decay or infection. Daily brushing and flossing can prevent bad breath but cannot address other underlying problems. Schedule an oral exam to determine why you have bad breath and what treatment options are available for you.
Clinton Dental Center
50475 Gratiot Ave. – Suite 4
Chesterfield, MI 48051
Phone: (586) 949-5363
Avoid foods and drinks that spark bad breath, such as onions, garlic, and peppers. If you have a “stinky” meal, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth about 20 minutes afterward. Replace your toothbrush every six months, and take care of oral health issues as quickly as possible. These practices will keep your smile in tip-top shape.