Nothing is more warming and welcoming than a white, shining smile. But behind those pearly whites rests the tongue. The tongue is sort of the jack-of-all-trades of your mouth. It performs a variety of functions, ranging from helping people to speak to aiding in the eating and digesting processes. The tongue also helps clean the mouth. But what about when the tongue needs a good cleaning? Determining the best tongue cleaner for you is as necessary as making sure you use the correct toothbrush. Much of the focus of good oral care centers on the teeth, as it should, but don’t forget the tongue!
Why Use a Tongue Scraper?
One of the main culprits responsible for necessitating a tongue scraper is halitosis, commonly known as bad breath. According to the American Dental Association(ADA), bad breath results from a variety of sources including gum disease, a lack of oral hygiene, consuming foods like onions and garlic, tobacco usage and medical disorders like sinusitis and postnasal drip. In a number of those instances, a white coating develops on the tongue. The Mayo Clinic notes that this is a result of a swollen overgrowth of papillae on the tongue’s surface from bacteria. The bacteria become lodged between the papillae. A tongue scraper is one method to alleviate any coating lining the tongue.
Types of Tongue Cleaning Tools
Mouths are bacteria breeding grounds. Millions of them can form on the tongue, so it’s important to understand how to properly clean it. There are generally three types of cleaning tools used on the tongue: a scraper, a regular toothbrush or a specially designed tongue brush. A scraper can be either plastic or metal. A tongue brush has bristles similar to a toothbrush but the former is designed to reach the crevices on the tongue.
Using a Tongue Scraper
Regardless of whether the scraper is plastic or metal, start by placing it at the back of the tongue. Slowly and gently pull the scraper towards the front of the mouth, as theAmerican Dental Association demonstrates. Remember to rinse the scraper before and after using it. Don’t forget to use the scraper on each side of the tongue and not just the top surface. Once you’ve finished the scraping process, rinse your mouth. Since tongue scrapers come in different shapes and sizes, choose one that best suites the shape of your mouth and tongue. Ask your dentist for tips on how to best select one if you’re not sure.