A great smile is a work of art. To achieve one, you have to practice it. Brushing, flossing, and lifestyle choices can help you create the most appealing smile possible.

You may need to realize that keeping your tongue clean is also an art form. It’s true!

Your tongue is covered in the same bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease. There are about 20 million bacteria in your mouth at any given time. While most are harmless, some bacteria can cause bad breath and other issues.

Why is a Clean Tongue Important?

A clean tongue is more important than you may know.

Your tongue is not smooth – there are crevices and bumps all over your tongue that can make your tongue a fertile environment for bacteria. Bacteria love to hide between taste buds and other structures on your tongue, for example.

While bacteria can’t cause cavities on your tongue, they can cause other issues. The buildup on your tongue may contain more than just bacteria – leftover food particles and dead skin cells can collect there, too. This combination can cause bad breath, particularly in the morning.

Food particles, bacteria, and dead cells from smoking, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, yeast infections, and some types of medications can coat your tongue and cause bad breath. When you stick your tongue out and look towards the back of your tongue, you may see a white or brownish coating—this is where the bacteria that cause bad breath hang out.

Cleaning your tongue can remove these coatings, leftover food, and bacteria, which can leave a bad taste in your mouth. This lousy taste can change how you perceive the flavor of your food.

Tongue cleaning can also remove temporary discolorations of your tongue. Certain foods and beverages can turn your tongue in unappealing colors. For example, coffee can turn brown, and wine can make your tongue too red.

Benefits of a Clean Tongue

Cleaning your tongue provides many health and well-being benefits, such as:

  • Fresher-smelling breath
  • Removing bacteria from your mouth
  • Cavity prevention
  • Better taste
  • Keeping your tongue smooth and fresh results in a more pleasant-feeling mouth.

How to Clean Your Tongue

How to clean your tongue with a toothbrush

  • Gently brush the surface of your tongue, starting from the back and working your way to the front.
  • Brush back and forth
  • Brush side-to-side
  • Rinse with water
  • Avoid brushing your tongue too hard or too long, as overly-zealous brushing can break the skin.

How to clean your tongue with a tongue scraper

A tongue scraper can help curb bad breath.

  • Place the scraper at the back of your tongue
  • Pull the scraper forward to the front of your tongue
  • Repeat several times, but move the scraper at different angles across your tongue

How to rinse your mouth

Saliva helps wash away food, bacteria, and debris, but many people have chronic dry mouth and tongue. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and yeast infections, can cause chronic dry mouth and tongue. Other causes of dry mouth include dry, hot weather, eating dry foods, not drinking enough fluids, and sleeping with your mouth open. Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, also known as oral rinse, can help you control dry mouth and tongue to keep bad breath under control.

  • Brush and floss for two minutes twice a day before you use an oral rinse
  • If you are using a fluoride toothpaste, wait a few minutes before using mouthwash, as the mouthwash can rinse away the concentrated fluoride from the toothpaste
  • Use the amount of mouthwash recommended by the manufacturer – usually between 3 and 5 teaspoons
  • Swish the mouthwash around in your mouth – do not swallow it
  • Gargle for 30 seconds to rinse away any odor-causing coatings on the back of your tongue
  • Spit it out

Talk to an oral surgeon in Melbourne about the art of cleaning your tongue

Your oral surgeon can give you more pointers and tips for keeping your tongue clean and healthy. For more information on the art of tongue cleaning and for tips on maintaining fresh breath and oral health, contact our oral surgeon in Melbourne, FL. at Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implants.