Don’t Forget To Clean Your Tongue!

Brushing your teeth, LR Family Dental Care

When your busy meticulously cleaning your eight incisors, eight premolars, eight molars and four canines, it’s easy to overlook your tongue. Besides, how much food debris and plaque can a tongue really hold? While dentists continue to debate over the effectiveness of tongue cleaning vs. regular brushing of the teeth, there’s strong evidence suggesting it can fight bad breath (halitosis) and neutralize bacteria.

The practice of tongue cleaning dates back to the ancient Roman Empire, but it didn’t spread beyond Europe until the 18th century. By the turn of the 19th century, tools were invented specifically for cleaning one’s tongue. These tools were often crafted of materials like silver, ivory, bone, and turtle shells.

Modern-day tongue cleaners may differ from 19th century models in terms of style and design, but their purpose remains the same: to remove buildups of food, bacteria, plaque and other unwanted “remnants.” A typical modern-day tongue cleaner looks similar in appearance to a toothbrush, but the head is larger and flatter with more bristles. This ergonomic design offers the highest level of comfort while effectively eliminating food debris on the tongue.

To put the problem of bad breath into perspective, it’s estimated that over 40 million Americans suffer from “chronic halitosis” – persistent bad breath. Americans spend a whopping $1 billion on products to treat and prevent bad breath, including mouth rinse, chewing gum, sprays, and formulated toothpaste. In reality, though, most of these products mask the problem rather than solving the root cause.

There are dozens of different factors which play a role in the formation of bad breath, one of which is volatile sulphur compounds. When food debris begins to decay on the tongue, it turns into the sulphur compounds. Experts believe these molecule compounds account for 80-95% of all cases of bad breath; therefore, removing them via tongue cleaner may treat and prevent bad breath.

According to a study published in the journal Microbiology, tongue cleaning may remove up to 500 different types of bacteria, as well as food debris, fungi, and dead skin/tissue cells. Far too many people focus strictly on cleaning their teeth while paying little-to-no regards to their tongue. While food is more likely to become trapped between your teeth, the tongue is still a target area for germs. Failing to clean it regularly may leave you susceptible to bad breath, plaque buildup, and other adverse symptoms.

If you have other questions about keeping your mouth healthy, don’t be afraid to contact us!