Whether you heard it from your parents, dentist, or both, everyone knows that you should brush and floss your teeth. But a lesser known piece of dental health lore is that you should also brush your tongue!
Your tongue serves many functions: it helps with speech, allows you to taste foods, and helps keep your teeth clean. If you really want to keep your dental health in top shape, you should always clean your tongue during your normal brushing routine.
The Tongue and Dental Health
Just like your teeth, your tongue can collect detritus and bacteria with regular use. This stuff collects on your tongue over time and has to be regularly removed to prevent dental health problems. Common oral health problems on the tongue include:
- Oral Thrush: thrush, a form of yeast infection, can occur on your tongue without regular care. It’s distinctive due to the white spots it forms.
- Periodontal Disease: while periodontal disease affects your teeth, your tongue can accelerate the process by transferring bacteria to them.
- Halitosis: more commonly known as bad breath, bacteria on your tongue is often the main reason for this unpleasant condition.
- Black Hair Tongue: while not quite as horrifying as the name suggestions, black hair tongue is still bad news. This occurs when dark foods like coffee stain the papillae (those little bumps) on your tongue, causing an appearance befitting the name.
Tools and Methods
You can use several different tools for brushing your tongue. The most obvious is to just use your existing toothbrush, but this comes with several problems. For one, you run the risk of spreading bacteria from your tongue to your teeth; for another, toothbrushes aren’t designed for the fine crevices on the tongue’s surface. It works in a pinch, though.
For best results, most dentists recommend using a dedicated tongue brush or scraper. With either, put a little dab of toothpaste on the tool. For the brush, move in slow, gentle circular motions from back to front. Repeat as needed and rinse after each pass. Scrapers function similarly, but instead a straight dragging motion gets the job done.
Brushing your tongue is just one component of a comprehensive oral health regimen. One of the most important parts of that regimen is regular visits to the dentist! Klooster Family Dentistry is accepting new patients, and our locations in both Holly Springs and Raleigh make us easily accessible across the Triangle. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment.