Everyone knows the importance of brushing their teeth. We learn from a very young age that we must properly and frequently brush our teeth, floss in between, and rinse with mouthwash in order to preserve oral health and maintain a beautiful smile.
Most people also understand the consequences of a failure to engage in proper oral hygiene following meals. If you don’t care for your teeth and your mouth, you could suffer loss of tooth enamel, staining, and tartar and plaque buildup that lead to more serious issues like cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
How does this happen? Food particles left in your mouth serve as fuel for bacteria, which can flourish and leave behind a harmful film on your teeth that erodes enamel and allows infection to spread. In other words, brushing, flossing, and rinsing are of the utmost importance, as are regular dental visits for cleaning and check-up.
What about brushing your tongue, though? Is this something you do regularly, or something you’ve never even considered? The fact is that brushing your tongue is just as important as brushing your teeth. Here’s what you need to know.
Bacteria Isn’t Confined to Your Teeth
Bacteria in your mouth can build up on every surface, not just on your teeth, so while brushing and flossing is a good start, you need to go the extra mile by brushing your tongue. Of course, it’s important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and use gentle strokes so as not to break the skin. No matter how clean your mouth is, open sores can cause discomfort and open the door to infection.
Rinsing Isn’t Enough
Rinsing with mouthwash is a great way to get at bacteria in the nooks and crannies that your toothbrush can’t reach, but it isn’t foolproof, especially when it comes to your tongue. Have you noticed a film on your tongue that doesn’t go away after rinsing?
This is caused by a buildup of food, bacteria, and biofilm that sticks to the tongue, causing bad breath and creating conditions that could lead to tooth decay and gum disease. You need to attack it with your toothbrush to completely get rid of it.
The proper way to brush your tongue clean is to brush both back-and-forth and side-to-side, followed by rinsing. Just be careful not to brush too hard – you don’t want to cause more harm than good. You could also use a tongue scraper if you prefer, so discuss it with your dentist to find out which tools are best suited to keeping your mouth clean and healthy.