Quick question – how much do you actually know about your tongue? We thought so. Beyond the obvious and essential purpose of allowing us to taste our foods via its taste buds, the tongue is a misunderstood and mysterious entity. For instance, did you know that your tongue is absolutely essential to the pronunciation and articulation of our words when we speak? Or that it uses eight specialized muscles to guide and manipulate food during the chewing process?
What about the fact that bacteria, dead cells, food particles and even fungus build up on a tongue’s surface as food passes through our mouth on a daily basis. Beyond the risks a bacteria-rich tongue coating can have on your oral health, the tongue is also prime real estate for sulfur releasing bacteria that cause the majority of bad breath.
Most of us have brushed our tongues before. We do it with our toothbrush. If it’s good enough for our teeth, why would it serve us any less on our tongue? The truth is, using the same instrument to clean both your teeth and tongue is ill advised. Not only are toothbrushes designed to clean hard tooth surfaces and not the soft tissue of the tongue, many of the bacteria that exist on one can transfer and impact the other. Quite simply, investing in a specialized tongue cleaner or scraper is a wise and valuable investment in your oral and overall health.
Why Buy a Tongue Scraper
As their name implies tongue scrapers, interchangeably known as tongue cleaners are specifically designed and shaped for your tongue. These scrapers act to separate that built up film from the tongue’s surface easily and painlessly. Toothbrushes aren’t designed to do this. Using one moves the build up around rather than actually removing it from the tongue. The regular removal of this bacterial build up is important for everyone for the following reasons.
Fresh Breath – There is no more effective means for preventing and limiting the amount of bad breath you will share with the world than cleaning your tongue with a scraper after each brushing. The majority of odour causing bacteria camp out towards the back of the tongue, making a well-designed scraper even more essential. Beyond that, decaying food debris, possible fungus and plaque causing bacteria can all add to bad breathe when on our tongues. Scrape that stuff out of there.
Oral Health – When bacteria is left to run amok on our tongues, our saliva will eventually pass them onto our teeth and surrounding gums. As these bacteria break down sugars in our foods and form plaque, they lead to dental cavities and gum disease over time. These issues can lead to gum recession and even tooth loss if left untreated over time.
General Health – The existence of inflammation and plaque in our mouths can have dire health implications including heart problems, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even complications during pregnancy. For more on how your oral health impacts your overall health, check out our post here.
How to Use a Tongue Scraper
Your local pharmacy should have a good selection of tongue scrapers and cleaners in various shapes, makes and styles. Although they may vary in design, the concept is the same. Beginning at the back of the tongue the scraper must be dragged forward along the upper surface of the tongue towards the front of your mouth. Cleaning times may vary depending on how often you clean your tongue as well as your health level and diet. Some foods tend to stick more than others. The idea is to continue to use to tongue scraper until the surface of your tongue appears pinkish red and free of a filmy buildup. After each use clean your scraper as you would your toothbrush; with hot water and leave it to air dry in an upright position. You should change your tongue scraper every three months for optimal results.