The tongue is a set of muscles that help you chew and speak properly. However, the tongue can also be home to bacteria in your mouth. Your mouth contains over 750 species of bacteria, but not all of them are bad. In fact, most are helpful. But some of the bad bacteria—such as those that can cause tooth decay and bad breath—live on the tongue . Cleaning your tongue through tongue brushing or scraping is an important part of your oral care routine and can help you maintain a clean, healthy smile!
What’s the Difference Between Tongue Brushing and Scraping?
There are two different ways to clean your tongue—brushing and scraping. Brushing is simply brushing the surface of your tongue with your toothbrush, while tongue scraping involves using a special tool—usually a soft, flexible device specifically designed to scrape bacteria off the tongue—to clean your tongue. Both tongue brushing and scraping can help reduce plaque in the oral cavity, helping you maintain healthy teeth and gums !
Both Help Reduce Bacteria That Causes Oral Health Problems
Tongue scraping in particular has been shown to reduce the bacteria that can contribute to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease, even in patients that didn’t change their tooth brushing habits or their diets . Simply by scraping your tongue twice a day after cleaning your teeth, you may be able to reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in your oral cavity and lower your risk of oral health problems.
So Which Method Is Better?
Both tongue brushing and tongue scraping can help clean your tongue and support your oral health. However, research shows that tongue scraping may be better than simply brushing your tongue with your toothbrush . However, brushing your tongue is better than not brushing or scraping it at all, so no matter which method you choose, just be sure to clean your tongue at least once a day!
How to Clean Your Tongue
For those who want to use their toothbrush, simply brush your tongue with a small amount of toothpaste, starting in the back of your mouth and working your way to the front, spitting and rinsing when you’re done.
If you’re using a tongue scraper, you’ll start in the back too, placing the tongue scraper against your tongue and gently pulling it forward. You can scrape your tongue a few times from different angles, but remember that the process shouldn’t be painful. Spit and rinse when you’re done. You should clean your tongue scraper by rinsing it with water and letting it dry completely between uses.
Make Cleaning Your Tongue Part of Your Oral Care Routine!
If you haven’t made cleaning your tongue a part of your daily oral care routine, it’s time to start. Use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to remove harmful oral bacteria and have fresher breath and a cleaner smile, and, as always, follow up with your dentist for regular checkups!