Your tongue is a rough surface filled with microscopic papilla and taste buds. The top of your tongue is filled with small crevices that can easily harbour plaque bacteria, which lead to bad breath. It is vital to keep your tongue clean, just as you would for the rest of your mouth and body. Your tongue should be cleaned at least once every day.
Signs & Symptoms of Tongue With Plaque
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Reduced taste due to layers of plaque covering the taste buds
- Discoloured tongue surface (white or cream coloured)
Tongue Cleaning Aids
There are several dental tools you can use to clean your tongue. Tongue cleaning should be done once to twice a day, ideally. While most people focus on cleaning their tongue in the morning, it is vital to clean your tongue at night before going to bed too.
One method of tongue cleaning is using the back surface of your manual toothbrush if it has a built-in tongue cleaner. Some toothbrushes have a textured part on the backside of the bristles that can be used to clean the tongue. This textured area should be scraped from the back of the tongue to the front of the tongue several times until your tongue is clean. Make sure to rinse the brush off between scrapes.
Another method of tongue cleaning is with a separate tongue cleaning tool. Tongue cleaners can either be made of corrugated plastic or with bristles and use the same method as the toothbrush. Scrape the tongue cleaner from the back of your tongue to the front of your tongue until it is clean. If your tongue had a coating of plaque on it, you would notice a film build-up on your tongue cleaner and a colour change on the top surface of your tongue. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, make sure to breathe through your nose while cleaning your tongue.
Benefits of Cleaning Your Tongue
- Reduce halitosis (bad breath)
- Reduce overall oral bacteria
- Improve taste sensation due to clean or unobstructed taste buds
- Removing discolouration on the surface of your tongue