Five Easy Tips on How to Clean Tongue Bacteria (Bye Bad Breath)!

Are you supposed to brush your tongue? It may not be a matter of whether you should or shouldn’t clean your tongue, but rather, “why wouldn’t you?” The benefits far outweigh the costs.

Did you know that bad breath (halitosis) is ranked as the third top reason patients seek dental care? Furthermore, upwards of 80% of bad-breath odors are the result of bacteria in your mouth commonly covering the surface of your tongue. But icky breath is only part of the reason it’s a good idea to clean your tongue. 

When it comes to learning how to clean tongue bacteria and why it’s important, Chester County Family Dentistry’s very own Dr. David Montgomery is an expert. Dr. Montgomery has been helping CCFD patients achieve better oral hygiene for over a decade and continuously gains recognition as one of Main Line Today Magazine’s “Top Dentists,” including the most recent 2019 issue. 

Grab yourself a tongue scraper and learn how to clean your tongue properly to fight bad breath and encourage optimum oral health

How to Clean Tongue Bacteria in Five Simple Steps

An attractive woman with brown curly hair and glasses smiles while holding a tongue scraper.What is it that causes that coating that sticks to your tongue? We can all thank bacteria for producing volatile sulfur compounds, the prime source of bad breath. These sulfur compounds work their way into the nooks and crannies of the tongue. 

According to Dr. Montgomery, many tongues tend to accumulate multiple hairlike papillae that become stained by coffee or smoking. “Scraping” the area can control the length of the papillae. 

“Most dentists and hygienists (including the CCFD team) advocate brushing your tongue with a toothbrush each day, but there’s even a more effective way to clean the tongue,” Dr. Montgomery explains. “We usually recommend using a tongue scraper for our patients who want a cleaner tongue or for those who complain of mouth odors.”

In addition to aiding in preventing bad breath, cleaning your tongue regularly can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.  

To get started, try these five simple tongue cleaning steps

  • Invest in a Tongue Scraper. One of Dr. Montgomery’s favorite tongue-scraping tools is the BreathRx plastic tongue scraper. You can find additional, affordable types of tongue scrapers at many grocery and convenience stores. The American Dental Association (ADA) offers a helpful guideline of dental products, including tongue scrapers with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Place the Scraper at the Back of the Tongue. Carefully place the tongue scraper as far back in your mouth as possible, without stimulating a gag reflex, to ensure you reach all of the dead cells and bacteria on the tongue.
  • Scrape the Tongue Gently. Begin along the back, dorsum (top) of the tongue and scrape forward to the front of the tongue.
  • Repeat this Process Twice Daily. As part of achieving best oral care practices, dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day. To maximize your oral hygiene even more, scrape your tongue twice a day before or after brushing your teeth.
  • Rinse Your Tongue Scraper. Rinsing the scraper should be done after each tongue cleaning. For best results, you can scrape your tongue two or three times during each session (rinsing each time). After the “final scrape” make sure to fully rinse the scraper with warm water and store it in a dry place. 

Extra Tips For How to Clean Your Tongue 

“If you scrape your tongue while looking in the mirror,” Dr. Montgomery says, “you will be amazed by the stuff that comes off!”

For patients who have a difficult time cleaning the back part of their tongue, which may trigger the gag reflex, there’s a helpful follow-up action that can be taken. 

“The gag reflex issue is why some dentists, including me, also advocate various mouth rinses to help cleanse this part of the tongue,” Dr. Montgomery says. “At CCFD, we recommend a 30-second gargle of Listerine twice a day.”

The tongue is a reservoir for some odor-causing molecules, and scraping it should make your tongue appear cleaner and taste fresher, according to Dr. Montgomery. 

More Ways to Keep Your Mouth Happy

If you would like more tips on how to clean tongue bacteria for the best results, our CCFD team is happy to help! In addition to offering a range of dental services — including routine checkups and cleanings, cosmetic dentistry options, and mercury-free dentistry — we pride ourselves on providing patients with the most advanced educational materials and resources to maximize their dental health. 

If you’d like more information on professional tongue cleaning or would like to schedule an appointment, call one of our friendly, professional CCFD team members today at 610-431-0600.

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