Many of us get a biannual reminder from our dentists to brush and floss our teeth twice per day and with fluoride toothpaste. But many dentists failed to recommend brushing or cleaning our tongues.
It’s a big oversight, especially when you consider that your tongue is a haven for germs that cause plaque and eventual cavities or gum disease. Stick your tongue out in the mirror and you’ll see an off-white paste coating its surface, likely thicker near the back. That’s all germs you can do without.
While you could just take a toothbrush and brush your tongue for a few seconds every time you brush your teeth, there’s a better method available: tongue scraping. With dedicated tongue scraping tools, you can remove plaque and germs from your tongue and avoid bad breath more reliably.
Let’s take a closer look at cleaning techniques you can use on your tongue and explore why using a tongue scraper is superior to brushing your tongue with a typical toothbrush.
How Do I Brush My Tongue?
While tongue scrapers are better tools for cleaning your tongue thoroughly and gently, a toothbrush can work in a pinch if you don’t have a scraper handy. If you insist on brushing your tongue, be sure to use this technique.
If you brush your tongue too hard, you could irritate the muscle and cause injuries over time. This is doubly true if you use an electric toothbrush, as it’s easy for people not used to the efficacy of electric brushes to push down too hard and cause damage to their teeth, gums, or tongue.
Back and Forth
Take your toothbrush (after wetting it to soften the bristles) and brush the center of your tongue back and forth for a few strokes. This should remove some germs. Be sure to rinse your toothbrush to prevent it from spreading germs around your mouth.
Side to Side
Now brush your tongue from side to side, taking care to brush the edges of your tongue as well. Again, rinse your toothbrush so you don’t leave a lot of germs on its bristles for later.
Rinse your mouth out after brushing to get rid of any floating germs and to refresh your tongue.
Is It Better to Brush or Scrape Your Tongue?
It’s always better to use a tongue scraper rather than a toothbrush.
A tongue scraper is a specialized tool with a curved head specially designed to scrape away germs on the surface of your tongue, rather than brushing them around as the bristles of a toothbrush would. There’s evidence to suggest that tongue scrapers are much more effective at cleaning tongues and toothbrushes, as well as reducing sulfur compounds that cause halitosis.
You don’t need to look far to find a tongue scraper that’s gentle and effective enough for your needs. Supersmile’s Ripple Edge Tongue Cleaner is a pack of three high-quality tongue scrapers that can gently but thoroughly sweep away the germs that causes the majority of bad breath.
These tongue scrapers will simultaneously clear away plaque and food particles. Even better, each is ergonomically designed, making them easy to use without straining your wrist or hurting your tongue. Try them out today and see how easy it can be to use a tongue scraper each day.
Why Do I Need to Clean My Tongue?
Just like your teeth, your tongue can gradually collect germs.
Ever wondered why you have incessant bad breath even after brushing your teeth? It’s probably because there’s plenty of germs still on your tongue, causing the sulfuric odors of halitosis.
If you clean your tongue, you’ll experience less frequent bad breath. As a bonus, you may also see reduced plaque buildup, particularly on the inside surfaces of your teeth. Your tongue will no longer be coated with as many germs, so it won’t spread it around to your teeth.
Bottom line: if you want to maximize oral hygiene, you'll use a tongue scraper regularly to clean your tongue.
Can’t I Just Use Mouthwash?
While mouthwash and oral rinses can be effective hygiene products, they don’t fully clean the surface of your tongue.
Your tongue’s textured surface is made up of millions of tiny bumps that form the taste buds we use to sense the taste of foods and beverages. This textured surface provides all kinds of tiny nooks and crannies in which germs can hide.
Using a mouthwash can sweep away some of the germs, but not all. In contrast, a tongue scraper can push down slightly onto the surface of your tongue and physically scrape away a lot of germs. It’s a more direct removal method compared to the swishing force of even the most potent oral rinse.
This being said, a good mouthwash never hurts. Supersmile’s Oral Rinse Mouthwash is both a germs cleaning and whitening solution that works well in conjunction with electric toothbrushes and tongue scrapers. Add this oral rinse to your hygiene routine and your mouth will be cleaner than ever.
What Will Happen If I Don’t Clean My Tongue?
If you don’t decide to clean your tongue regularly, you can expect a few negative symptoms to arise and stick around, even if you have otherwise excellent oral hygiene.
Bad breath is just the start. Most bad breath is caused by germs that consume sugars in your food and produce sulfurous odors as a result. If you let the germs sit around on your tongue, bad breath isn’t just a likelihood: it’s a guarantee.
Additionally, the germs that coats your tongue can gradually cover tastebuds as well. While you won’t fully lose your sense of taste, it will be dulled significantly. Use a tongue scraper even once and you’ll likely be able to tell the difference between before and after.
Increase Germs in the Mouth
Leaving germs to sit around on your tongue is also bad for the rest of your oral hygiene. That germs can spread to the teeth and gums easier than you think, negating any progress you make with brushing and flossing your teeth.
White Coating on the Tongue
There’s something to be said for the unsightly white coating that forms on the surface of your tongue if you don’t use a scraper regularly. If the germs progress far enough, it can even get near the tip of your tongue and be visible when you talk with your friends or significant others.
Increased Risk of Infection
Perhaps worst of all, not cleaning your tongue could lead to a higher risk of infection. Gum injuries or cavities will be more susceptible to infection thanks to the prevalence of extra germs on your tongue's surface. This can, in turn, lead to much worse dental and oral problems down the road, such as gingivitis or rotten teeth.
How Often Should I Clean My Tongue?
In general, it's a good idea to clean your tongue with a tongue scraper about as often as you brush your teeth. You can skip this from time to time, but scraping your tongue twice per day – once in the morning and once in the evening – will go a long way to preventing germs build-up on the surface of your tongue.
If you use a high-quality tongue scraper, you won’t have to worry about rubbing your tongue raw or damaging the taste buds there. A tongue scraper can be used multiple times per day without causing sensitivity or other issues.
Plus, scraping your tongue each time you brush your teeth makes it easy to remember this vital part of a holistic oral hygiene routine. Just add it to your daily dental regimen – floss, brush, scrape, and rinse – and you’ll never forget to give your tongue the same attention that you do your teeth.
In the end, you should brush or preferably scrape your tongue regularly if you want to benefit from better breath and avoid worse dental hygiene overall. This is an often overlooked part of holistic oral care, but it’s a vital component of a full routine nonetheless.
Luckily for you, you can find a pack of affordable and effective tongue scrapers right on Supersmile. We also offer many other tools you might need to complete your oral hygiene routine, including an electric toothbrush, high-quality and professional whitening toothpaste, and even top-tier floss to get in between your teeth and protect your gums. Check out our online store to browse our entire selection!
A Cochrane systematic review finds tongue scrapers | NCBI
Tongue Scraping: 5 Benefits, Side Effects, Using a Spoon, and More | Healthline
The effect of tongue scraper on mutans streptococci and lactobacilli | NCBI
Why You Should Be Brushing Your Tongue | Healthline
Impact of tongue cleansers on microbial load and taste | Wiley Library