By Miranda, Registered Dental Hygienist
Toothbrush✔ Floss✔ Tongue Scraper? You might want to consider adding this little oral wellness hack to your medicine cabinet. Tongue hygiene has been routinely practiced by many eastern cultures for hundreds of years, and modern research confirms that tongue cleaning is a great way to remove bacteria that can cause morning breath and maybe even disease.
When you stop to think about it, your tongue actually makes up a lot of the surface area in your mouth. According to the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, the tongue is “the largest niche for microorganisms in the oral cavity … [providing] a large surface area favoring the accumulation of oral debris.” The microorganisms on your tongue influence the flora of your entire mouth, so, it makes sense that taking care of your tongue is an easy wellness win.
Tongue scraping is a valuable routine especially if you experience “bad” breath. If you do, you’re not alone – it’s common and normal. In fact, about half of Americans experience an odor on their breath at some point. In people with otherwise healthy teeth and gums, the source of bad breath is likely to be the the tongue. That’s because it can be coated by a mixture of natural breakdown of bacterial cells and skin cells from your tongue, as well as leftover food particles from your daily meals. Removing this coating by cleaning your tongue can result in up to an 88% reduction in odor.
Not only can tongue cleaning freshen breath, it might even also improve your sense of taste, and slow the overall growth of oral bacteria. Some studies suggest it can help lower recurrent infections in people who suffer from periodontal disease, although the jury is still out on that one. Chances are you may have heard of a tongue scraper, but are unsure of which one is best for you. Here’s a closer look into your options:
Metal Tongue Scraper
Pros: Stainless steel or copper has natural bacteria fighting abilities, is more heavy on the tongue, lasts a long time making it more affordable long term, and can be easily sterilized with boiling water or antiseptics
Cons: Might be a more expensive upfront cost
Plastic Tongue Scraper
Pros: Lots of options for shapes and colors, ribbed designs available to help remove bacteria faster, gentle on the tongue
Cons: Have to replace every 3-4 months
Toothbrush Tongue Scraping
Pros: Soft bristles clean the surface, most effective when used with warm water
Cons: Nylon bristles harbor bacteria overtime placing bacteria back on your tongue, must change every 3-4 months and avoid brushing with toothpaste as some toothpaste can actually attract more bacteria to the tongue
These are just a few products to help combat harmful bacteria that could be negatively affecting your health. Try them out, and see which tools works for you. Of course, any at-home wellness routine should be paired with professional wellness visits, since our team can provide a more thorough clean than you can at home and catch issues before they start causing trouble. If you have any questions feel free to ask us. Your body will thank you for it!
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