In your oral hygiene routine, you likely focus on brushing and flossing your teeth. But what about your tongue? Is there any benefit to cleaning your tongue?
Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning your tongue during orthodontic treatment with braces, Invisalign® or Spark™ clear aligners. We’ll discuss the benefits of cleaning your tongue and how to use tongue scrapers for a beautiful, healthy smile!
Bad bacteria Vs. Good bacteria
For the most part, bacteria in our mouths is normal. We have about 20 billion bacteria in our mouths at any moment, and these bacteria reproduce every five hours! So if you don’t brush your teeth for 24 hours, those 20 billion bacteria multiply to 100 billion bacteria.
A lot of these bacteria are “good” and beneficial for defending your teeth and gums, freshening your breath and aiding the digestive process. “Scientists have identified more than 700 different species of oral bacteria that live in the mouth and make up your oral microbiome.”
However, there are also “bad” bacteria that do just the opposite: cause bad breath and foul odors, cavities, gum disease, heart disease, and other diseases in the body.
Needless to say, minimizing the “bad” bacteria and keeping a clean mouth is essential for maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the mouth to prevent disease.
Cleaning your tongue can play a major part in helping you achieve and maintain a beautiful smile for the rest of your life!
Top 3 benefits of brushing your tongue
1. Cleaning your tongue removes bacteria
Bacteria flourish between taste buds and within the crevices of the tongue. Cleaning your tongue helps to remove additional bacteria that you may be missing during your brushing routine.
Studies published in the National Library of Medicine have shown that tongue scrapers (we’ll get to these in a minute) can reduce bacteria by 75%, while using only a toothbrush reduces bacteria in the mouth by 45%. That’s a significant 30% difference in bacteria, just from using a tongue cleaning tool!
Reducing bacteria in your mouth will help prevent bad breath and bad tastes in the mouth, as well as prevent gum disease, cavities and associated health conditions.
2. Cleaning your tongue supports better digestion
The food digestion process begins in the mouth, where our saliva has specialized enzymes that break down food and make it easy for the stomach and intestines to digest food.
Cleaning your tongue first thing in the morning can help to activate those digestive enzymes, promoting happy digestion throughout the day! This can help you keep stomach aches at bay, give you more energy throughout your day, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
3. Helps you experience beautiful results from braces or clear aligners
If you have braces, Invisalign or Spark clear aligners, you know that oral health plays an important role in your treatment progress. You’ve seen how food can get trapped in your brackets and wires, or between your teeth, and you can imagine how that leads to bacteria growth and bad breath!
During orthodontic treatment, keeping your smile clean is more important than ever before. Cleaning your tongue is one of the easiest ways to help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and maintain excellent oral hygiene.
When your braces are removed or you take out your clear aligners for the last time, you’ll see the beautiful, healthy smile you were expecting!
How to clean your tongue
Using a toothbrush
Cleaning your tongue is simple! You can purchase a separate toothbrush with a medium bristle to gently brush your tongue, or you can use your regular toothbrush to brush your tongue for 30 seconds after brushing your teeth.
There are toothbrushes (like the Colgate 360° Toothbrush) that have tongue scrapers on the back of them! You can use this toothbrush to brush your teeth normally, then flip it over to brush your tongue for 30 seconds before rinsing it off.
Using a tongue scraper
A tongue scraper is a tool commonly used to scrape the “film” off of the tongue and remove bacteria from the crevices in the tongue.
These oral hygiene devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some shaped like a V with two handles, and others shaped with a loop and a singular handle (pictured to the left).
The goal is to press the V shape or loop on the tongue, pulling from the back of the tongue or throat toward the front opening of your mouth.
How to use a tongue scraper
- Place the rounded or V-shaped end of the scraper at the back of your tongue, toward your throat.
- Gently and slowly pull the scraper forward toward the tip of your tongue.
- Repeat this scraping motion 5 to 10 times, until you see the white film on your tongue dissipate.
- Rinse the tongue scraper off between each scrape.
- Wash the tongue scraper with mild soap and water and store it in a dry place.
- Use the tongue scraper morning and night, after brushing your teeth.
Still have questions about cleaning your tongue?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! Cleaning your tongue is an additional step in your oral hygiene routine that can prove highly beneficial for keeping your smile clean.
The best results are achieved when you follow your treatment plan and commit to healthy oral hygiene habits. Dr. Nease, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Horvath, Dr. Higginbotham and our experienced team are here to empower you along the way!
Ready to start your smile transformation? Request your complimentary exam with us at one of our orthodontist offices in West Spartanburg, East Spartanburg, Gaffney, Duncan or Union to take your smile to the Nth Degree.