The tongue is an important part of the mouth that allows us to speak, taste, and swallow. Although it is a critical part of our anatomy, however, most of us don’t think about its proper care.
The tongue comprises a group of muscles, each of which has a specific job to perform. These jobs include creating certain sounds or pushing food from the front of the mouth to the back where it is broken down by saliva into swallowable pieces. Other muscles help in moving the tongue up and down.
Most of the bacteria in the mouth are found on the tongue. The tiny bumps on the tongue (called papillae) collect food particles, dead skin cells and bacteria. A thin layer of mucus that coats the fleshy parts of the mouth covers those things collected in the papillae. The buildup on the tongue may appear white in color and result in bad breath. Tongue bacteria could redeposit onto the gums and teeth, even after brushing, increasing the risk of plaque and tartar buildup.
The tongue should be cleaned similar to the way that you clean your teeth and gums. You can brush the tongue by gently scrubbing from the back to the tip of your tongue with a moistened toothbrush. If you are going to clean your tongue after brushing your teeth, spit out the excess toothpaste. With a little bit of toothpaste residue on the toothbrush, gently scrub the tongue, cheeks, and roof of the mouth before rinsing.
Another way to clean the tongue is through the use of a tongue scraper. This implement is designed to glide along the tongue’s surface, taking off the top layer of mucus as well as the bacteria and debris that have been trapped underneath. Slide the scraper from the back of the tongue down to the top. Rinse the scraper and repeat the process.
Clean your tongue daily as part of your regular oral health routine. For optimal dental care, visit your specialist in family dentistry in Utah at least twice a year.