When you think of oral health, it’s really easy to focus on teeth almost exclusively and forget that there are other important players in your overall mouth health. One of the other key influencers of oral health is your tongue. In this post, we’re going to talk about how taking care of your tongue can help eliminate or prevent bad breath.
Like most other mouth issues, bad breath is usually caused by bad bacteria, and bacteria love camping out on the tongue! It’s a warm, wet, soft surface with all kinds of crevices and hidey-holes for bacteria to congregate in, and even if you brush and floss regularly like you’re supposed to, the bacteria can carry on undisturbed.
So if you’re having problems with bad breath, here’s the first thing we recommend:
Start cleaning your tongue.
How? Well, the simplest way to start is just by brushing your tongue when you brush your teeth. A lot of bacteria live on the back of the tongue, so make sure you get your toothbrush back as far as you can without gagging.
A soft-bristled toothbrush can help remove some bacteria, but if you’re serious about the tongue-cleaning thing, you’ll probably want to buy a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers are usually plastic or metal and cost less than $10. This article reviews a couple of tongue scrapers and can help you get started on figuring out what will work for you.
(You’ve probably put two and two together by now and realized that the reason it’s harder to keep your breath smelling decent when you have braces is that the brackets and bands and wires provide good homes for bad bacteria too. That’s why flossing is soooo important when you have braces.)
Sometimes bad breath can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, infections, or other underlying health problems, so if you don’t see an improvement in your breath once you start consistently cleaning your tongue, come see us for further evaluation.
By the way, a clean tongue can actually help you taste the flavors in your food better, so get out there and enjoy your favorite meal a little extra!