How to Brush Your Tongue? – Let’s Find Out


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Dr Sukanya Goswami
Sukanya has done BDS. She is a dentist, a blogger, an extrovert, and a travel enthusiast. She is also a spiritual believer. When she is not working, you can find her reading books.

Tongue cleaning is one of the most crucial aspects of maintaining good oral hygiene. Tongue cleaning has been in practice for hundreds of years in the Eastern world. Recently, it has become a worldwide dental health care phenomenon. As people are becoming more aware of the effects of poor oral hygiene, they are taking preventive measures to limit bacterial growth in the mouth.

Clinical studies have revealed that regular tongue cleaning significantly reduces bad breath, plaque, and biofilm from the mouth. Tongue cleaning can be done in several ways. One of the most common technique is by brushing the tongue with a toothbrush.

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We all are well aware of the fact that regular toothbrush effectively removes plaque and bacteria from the surface of the teeth and gums. However, it is essential to know that the brushing tongue gets rid of the foul-smelling microbes as well as food debris. Today’s article will highlight the benefits of cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush. Furthermore, we will discuss the correct technique of brushing tongue.

What is the purpose of tongue cleaning?

Many people don’t realize, but whatever food you consume, its particles can get trapped into the crevices of the tongue in the form of food debris. Moreover, the tongue is a target for bacteria in the mouth. Often the bacteria reside and feed on the food debris releasing sulfur-containing by-products from the tongue. Such a process leads to the formation of bad breath. Additionally, it causes poor oral hygiene, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. (1)

Most of the bacteria that accumulate on the tongue may also affect the taste buds and alter or block the taste sensations in the mouth. Therefore, it is essential to clean your tongue regularly and maintain good oral hygiene. (2)

Some people think rinsing the mouth is enough to clean the oral tissues. Unfortunately, the microorganisms on the surface of the tongue hide in the crevices and are stick to the tissue. Therefore, simply rinsing the mouth with water doesn’t serve the purpose of tongue cleaning.

How can brushing the tongue maintain good oral hygiene?

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While there are several ways of cleaning the tongue, brushing the surface of the tongue with a toothbrush is the most effective and affordable technique. Some of the benefits of brushing your tongue regularly includes –

  • Fresher feeling mouth – a clinical study concluded that using a toothbrush to clean the tongue helps to remove 45% of the hidden bacteria. Moreover, it reduces the production of volatile sulfur compounds that contribute to bad breath. (3)
  • Reduces the risk of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Reduces plaque accumulation
  • Prevents taste alteration especially for sweet and sour taste buds

What is the correct way of cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush?

Cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush is an easy and convenient way of maintaining good oral health. The correct technique of cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush is given below –

  • Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush which his gentle to brush the surface of the tongue
  • Stick your tongue out as far as it will reach
  • Position the toothbrush at the back of the tongue and gently move it forward and backward along the surface of the tongue. (4)
  • Some people may experience a gag reflex while cleaning the tongue. In this case, do not take the brush too far posteriorly.
  • Spit the saliva out that is produced while brushing the tongue.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water
  • Clean the bristles of the toothbrush with water

It is recommended to clean your tongue regularly after tooth brushing. In cases of the discolored tongue, you can brush the tongue with diluted hydrogen peroxide paste. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. (5)

What are the alternative ways of cleaning the tongue?

There are various ways you can clean your tongue regularly. Some of them are listed below –

  • Tongue scrapers – these come in the form of a ‘V’ shaped instrument, which is used to scrape the bacteria, plaque, and food debris from the surface of the tongue. (6)
  • Tongue brush – Orabrush or tongue brush consists of a round and flathead with bristles that are designed to effectively clean the surface of the tongue similar to the toothbrush technique. (7)
  • Rinsing the tongue with a mouthwash – although this method is not as effective as tongue scraping or brushing, it is still practiced in many parts of the world.

Take away message

Our tongue is an essential part of our mouth. Just like the teeth and gums, the tongue is also susceptible to bacterial growth and plaque accumulation. Moreover, it is one of the most crucial areas that contribute to the maintenance of good oral hygiene. The tongue usually has a rough surface made from deep fissures and crevices. Often, the food particles get trapped easily in the crevices. Furthermore, the plaque and bacteria start to accumulate and grow in the hidden areas of the tongue surface.

Such incidences can often lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Therefore, it is essential to clean the tongue regularly. The most common method of cleaning the tongue is by using a toothbrush.

The toothbrush is used in a forward and backward direction on the tongue surface to remove the bacteria and volatile sulfur-containing compounds. Moreover, it is the most convenient method of cleaning the tongue along with toothbrushing.

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