Many people must be aware of the importance of cleaning the tongue. We explain why it is necessary to introduce this habit into your oral hygiene routine. When performing daily oral hygiene, brushing your teeth well helps prevent many of the frequent diseases of the oral cavity. But in addition, cleaning your tongue as part of your routine is essential for maintaining oral health.
The tongue is a muscle that participates in essential functions, such as chewing, swallowing, tasting, speaking, and moisturizing the mouth. If it is not sanitized correctly, food residues and bacteria accumulate on the surface, which can cause problems in the oral cavity. This article explains how to clean it to keep it healthy.
Before explaining how to clean the tongue, it is essential to know its anatomy. This way, you will be able to understand which structure you are cleaning and the importance of taking care of this fundamental organ for oral functions. The tongue is a mobile organ composed of a group of muscles covered with mucous tissue and anchored to the floor of the mouth. It has nerve endings and excellent blood circulation, which is why it hurts and bleeds a lot when injured.
Its dorsal surface is covered with papillae; some of these structures participate in the gustatory function, and others provide the ability to touch and perceive textures. They also have lymphatic and saliva production functions. Its regular appearance is pink, shiny, moist, and mobile, especially in the anterior sector. Participates in the following functions of the mouth:
- Chewing: directs food to chew surfaces to be crushed.
- Formation of the food bolus.
- Swallowing: directs the food bolus towards the pharynx to be swallowed.
- Perception of the sense of taste.
- Touch and perception of textures.
- Mouth hydration with saliva production.
Five Tips For Cleaning Your Tongue
As already mentioned, cleaning your tongue every day is essential to keep this organ healthy.
Regularly Sanitize The Entire Mouth
The first step to properly cleaning your tongue is incorporating its hygiene into your dental cleaning routine. Start by brushing your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. It’s also important to floss to remove bacterial plaque and food debris that builds up between your teeth. Proper dental hygiene allows you to eliminate residues that could detach and deposit on the tongue.
Use A Scraper To Clean The Tongue
A tongue scraper or tongue cleaner is ideal for cleaning the tongue properly. This tool is specially designed to remove bacterial buildup from the tongue’s surface. If this tool is unavailable, a toothbrush, the back of a toothbrush, or even a dessert spoon can be used. While the scraper is ideally designed to clean the tongue’s surface, the bristles of a regular toothbrush are sufficient for many people.
The scraping movements must be performed, without exerting too much pressure, from the deepest part of the tongue forward, reaching the tip. It is essential to repeat the process several times, cleaning the sides and all their grooves. Between each step, you should rinse your mouth with water. Placing the scraper in the back area can generate a gag reflex. It is often helpful to take deep breaths before starting.
Observe The Lingual Surface
Once you’ve finished cleaning, the ideal is to stick your tongue out in front of a mirror and observe it. Carefully observing its surface allows you to verify that cleaning has been done correctly. If hygiene has been adequate, the pink color should predominate over the entire surface. If you see white or yellowish areas, it is because it has not been cleaned thoroughly, and the process will need to be repeated.
In general, the whitish tongue is due to the presence of bacteria accumulated on its surface, but other times it is a symptom of a medical condition. Oral candidiasis, leukoplakia, or lichen, for example, can manifest in this way. If the back of the tongue takes on the usual pink hue when brushing again, there is no cause for concern. If, on the other hand, the whitish color persists, you should go to the dentist to evaluate the situation.
To complete the tongue cleaning process, the ideal is to use a mouthwash with fluoride or an antiseptic. Carrying out an energetic rinse for two minutes with the liquid allows the residual dirt to be removed. It also helps protect the mouth from the action of bacterial plaque and provides clean, fresh breath.
Once you get into cleaning your tongue as part of your tooth brushing routine, start doing it every time you clean your mouth. However, until this becomes a habit, doing it at least twice a day is the bare minimum. This prevents the accumulation of bacteria, the formation of whitish plaques on the back of the tongue, and bad breath. When the patient feels the comfort of having a clean tongue, he begins to pay more attention to the care of this area.
Why Is It Important To Clean The Tongue?
The tongue is a fundamental muscle for carrying out many mouth functions. As we have told you, it intervenes in chewing, the formation of the food bolus, swallowing, phonation, perception of flavors, and oral hydration. Cleaning the tongue is essential to keep this organ healthy and for these practices to take place usually.
If food remains accumulates and bacteria proliferate on its surface, various problems can arise:
- Development of bacteria that cause tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.
- Changes in the sense of taste.
- Alterations of the normal oral flora, favoring the development of mycosis.
- The patina on the tongue.
If cleaning the tongue becomes difficult, there are whitish spots that are difficult to remove, or pain or difficulty in movement appears, and you should consult a trusted dentist. A thorough examination will allow you to diagnose the causes of these problems.
The Importance Of Dental Visits
Cleaning the tongue is essential for it to perform its functions typically. But to take care of this muscle properly, it is also necessary to visit the dentist regularly, as it is of great help. Your doctor will look at your appearance and assess your mobility to diagnose any changes. He can also advise you on how to keep her healthy. Remember that for complete oral care, you must have regular dental checkups.