If you think brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, and seeing your dentist twice a year is what you should do for your oral hygiene, you wouldn’t be wrong, but you could add one missing step: scraping your tongue. That’s right. Dentists recommend scraping your tongue in addition to the other good oral hygiene practices to help guard against bacteria buildup in your mouth that can lead to decay and other dental problems.
Board-certified dentist AnnMarie Olson, DDS explains why you should take the time to scrape your tongue when going through your daily oral hygiene protocol.
You brush your teeth and floss between them. But what about your tongue? Do you know it’s also filled with bacteria from the food you eat? If you never scrape the bacteria from your tongue, they can build up and lead to bad breath and more serious dental issues.
You can purchase a tongue scraper from the internet. Dr. Olson, or her partner Dr. Culotta, can also recommend a scraper. The scraper is a small plastic or metal instrument you slide across your tongue.
Scape from back to front to remove the bacteria. Clean the scraper after each pass to remove debris. You should be able to eliminate most buildup within one to two passes.
Scraping your tongue has oral health benefits. Regular tongue scraping can reduce the bacteria in your mouth that lead to gum disease and decay, and it can improve bad breath.
Scraping bacteria from your tongue reduces your risk for tooth decay. There are several types of bacteria that can prematurely break down the integrity of your teeth, leading to cavities and tooth loss. These bacteria can also lead to gum disease. And if you’re plagued with bad breath, removing the bacteria should improve that problem too.
Your tongue looks healthier when you scrape it. If your tongue looks whitish from bacterial buildup, once you start scraping it, you’ll see the difference in color; it’ll go from white to a healthy red.
You never knew food could taste so good. By clearing away bacteria and debris, your taste buds can better differentiate between sweet, salty, sour, and bitter tastes.
Have you tried to scrape your tongue and been unpleasantly surprised by gagging? Just don’t start scraping so far back in your mouth, but always scrape from back to front.
If a tongue scraper just doesn’t work for you, you can use your toothbrush to brush your tongue, but make sure to clean it properly so you don’t reintroduce bacteria. The more bacteria you can keep out of your mouth each day, the better your long-term oral health can be.
For expert general and cosmetic dental care, call Ann Olson DDS today. We’re your partner in your oral health.