Even if you’re the oral hygiene MVP, you brush your teeth twice daily, floss regularly and conscientiously visit your dentist every six months, you may still be missing one step that could help keep your mouth fresh and healthy.
It’s your tongue! – that fleshy bulk of muscles that helps you speak, chew, taste and swallow. It’s covered in little bumps called papillae that aids tasting and feeling textures in your mouth. Downside is, your tongue can also accommodate bacteria.
While most of those bacteria are the “good kind” that foster a healthy environment in your mouth, other kinds can cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum infections.
So, cleaning your tongue is vital to keeping that bad bacteria away, as well as food debris and dead cells that may accumulate there and cause you trouble.
How to clean your tongue
Brushing your tongue gently a few times with a toothbrush and toothpaste is one way to clean it out but tongue scraping can do a better job at removing that plaque and bacteria off the tongue’s surface.
Indeed, studies suggest that tongue scraping can remove bacteria and improve bad breath more than brushing.
Tongue scraping devices made from plastic, copper or stainless steel are available at most drug stores and generally cost under N500.
Brush your teeth normally then scrape your tongue.
Here’s how to add tongue scraping to your routine in the morning and at night.
Brush your teeth, floss and rinse like you normally would. Then, stick your tongue out and use light pressure to run the scraper across the entire surface of your tongue once or twice, starting all the way at the back of the tongue and scraping toward the front. It shouldn’t hurt or do any damage to the tongue – if it does, use less pressure.
Rinse the scraper in warm water after each pass, and finish by rinsing it again and swishing your mouth out with water.
Taking these steps can help leave your mouth feeling squeaky clean.
PS: If you see any signs that your tongue is unhealthy — like white, black or red discoloration, or sores or pain that persists for more than two weeks – see your dentist.