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Should I Brush My Tongue?

When you brush and floss your teeth, are you cleaning your tongue as well?

The germs in your mouth that cause tooth decay, gingivitis, and gum disease tend to form together in groups known as colonies. Colonies of bacteria are less destructive when they are broken up during your oral hygiene routine. However, they don’t just live on your teeth; bacteria can be found on your tongue as well.

The surface of the tongue is covered with many little tissue projections, called papillae, which serve various functions such as detecting taste. These papillae also make great hiding places for bacteria. In addition to being the type of bacteria that can result in tooth decay, they are also typically the source of bad breath.

Just using mouthwash isn’t enough to eliminate this bacteria; it needs to be manually dislodged with a toothbrush.


How to clean your tongue

Cleaning your tongue is relatively simple. Use your toothbrush first to go back-and-forth, then switch to side-to-side. Be sure you don’t overdo it, as you don’t want to damage your tongue. When done, rinse out your mouth with water.

A tongue-scraper may also be used but isn’t necessary. The ADA explains that, so far, there is no evidence that they work any better than using a toothbrush.

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