The Tongue’s Tale
We all know that our mouths harbor many different kinds of bacteria. So we try to practice good oral hygiene to keep our mouths clean and healthy. With brushing and flossing, we manage to preserve the health of our teeth and gums. But are we not leaving our tongue out of the picture?
Though the American Dental Association may not consider cleaning the tongue as important for good oral health, it may help with bad breath. At least it might make your mouth feel really clean.
There might be loads of bacteria in the mouth but most of them are not harmful. But many bacteria in your mouth protect you by keeping out foreign organisms, like disease-causing pathogens. While your mouth- bacteria are doing you good, your breath may tend to smell foul. This may be caused by anaerobic bacteria that doesn’t need oxygen to survive, but tend to produce various byproducts, including sulfur compounds, which can smell. And they are also found on the tongue.
Dry Mouth and Bad Breath
If you have dry mouth, that can also make the smell more severe, especially if you are dehydrated. Your saliva neutralizes acids and limits bacterial growth, so when your spit is running low, bacteria may be able to cause more of a smell. The bacteria that causes bad breath is usually non-pathogenic. But sometimes, bad breath could mean you have an infection, like gum disease. If your bad breath is accompanied by symptoms like swollen gums, bleeding gums, loose teeth, or painful chewing, you should see a dentist.
Cleaning your Tongue
Once or twice a day, you can use a tongue scraper or toothbrush after tooth brushing. You can use the same toothbrush for your teeth and the tongue. When cleaning your tongue, stick it out as far as you can; reach to the back and scrape outward to the tip. Do not press too hard or you might cut skin; just apply gentle pressure, rinsing the scraper or toothbrush after each pass. Then you can use a therapeutic mouthwash, available by prescription, to control bacteria that can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and other oral hygiene issues.
Replace your toothbrush and your tongue scraper every three or four months. If you are sick, though, or have some kind of infection, get a new toothbrush and tongue scraper. Clean doesn’t mean 100 percent bacteria-free, so check out your tongue in the mirror. It should be a fleshy pink color.
Paying Attention to the Tongue in Downtown Seattle
When you come visit us in Downtown Seattle we just don’t take a look at teeth and gums. We pay attention to your overall oral health, and that includes the health of your tongue.