I’ve heard that some people brush or scrape their tongue, but I’ve never really understood why. I’ve heard it has something to do with bad breath, but I don’t really have any issues with that. Do I need to brush my tongue and if so, how often and why?
Good question! Brushing your tongue is definitely something dentists recommend to people with chronic bad breath, but it’s a great habit for everyone to get into. The tongue can hold on to a lot of bacteria — in fact, it harbors the most bacteria in your mouth. So, even if you’re faithfully brushing and flossing every day, bacteria can still cling to your tongue and cause bad breath, and spread bacteria back onto your cleaned teeth and gums.
So, how should you brush your tongue? Many people just use their toothbrush, and brush the tongue after they brush their teeth. To do so, simply rub your toothbrush in circular motions on the surface and underneath the tongue, then rinse with both water and a swish of mouthwash.
If you’d prefer to use a different tool to clean your tongue, or if you have a condition such as chronic bad breath or a fissured tongue (which just means you have deeper groves that can more easily retain bacteria), which requires a particularly deep and thorough clean, then consider buying a tongue scraper. This inexpensive tool can be purchased pretty much everywhere and consists of a handle with a teardrop or triangle shaped loop at one end. This loop has small grooves in it, which help lift up bacteria and dead cells from your tongue.
How do you use it? Simply pull the scraper from the back of your tongue towards the front about three times, and then rinse with water and mouthwash. Rinse off the tongue scraper after use, and you’ll be all set. We recommend you clean your tongue once a day, so try to incorporate this extra step into your oral hygiene routine for an even cleaner smile.