Is achieving good oral hygiene important to you? While brushing your teeth and flossing daily are very important in accomplishing this, you’re forgetting one important step. There’s one more thing that needs to be done for a clean and healthy mouth and that’s cleaning your tongue.

Just like how bacteria builds up on and in between your teeth, hardening into plaque and tartar if not removed, bacteria also builds up on your tongue. The surface of your tongue is covered in tiny bumps that are called papillae. Bacteria, food particles, and dead skin cells collect in between these bumps. The trapped particles are then coated by a thin layer of mucus which coats the fleshy parts of the mouth. The bacteria and other debris trapped on the tongue can cause bad breath, or halitosis, and a white discoloration of the tongue. In addition, the bacteria on the tongue can redeposit onto teeth and gums, even after they’ve been cleaned, increasing the likelihood of plaque and tartar buildup.

Reasons Why You Should Clean Your Tongue
It’s essential to oral health: Cleaning your tongue, especially the back part, removes bacteria and toxins responsible for plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease.

It will enhance your taste buds and the flavors you experience: If you have a lot of build-up on your tongue, your taste buds may be blocked. Removing this buildup will better reexpose your taste buds and enhance the flavor of the food you consume.

It will boost your immunity: Removing all that bacteria and food buildup off of your tongue will prevent toxins from getting reabsorbed by your body.

It will improve your digestive health: Cleaning your tongue promotes saliva production, which helps with your digestion.

It will banish bad breath: Bad breath comes from the build-up of food, bacteria, and dead cells that accumulate at the very back of the tongue. If you stick out your tongue, this build up is extreme apparent, and that’s where the bad breath comes from.

How to Clean Your Tongue Properly:
Brushing:    Brushing your tongue involves gently scrubbing your tongue from back to tip with a wet toothbrush. You can do this most effectively while brushing your teeth by spitting out excess toothpaste after cleaning your teeth but before rinsing so that your mouth and toothbrush still have toothpaste residue on them. Gently scrub your tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth before rinsing to reap the protective benefits of the toothpaste and get an all around clean.

Scraping:    If you’d prefer a different or additional method to clean your tongue, try out a tongue scraper. These devices can be found inexpensively at most drug stores. They’re designed to glide along the surface of your tongue, removing the tongue’s layer of mucus, as well as the bacteria and debris it traps. Scraping your tongue can reduce bad breath substantially. Tongue scraping is an effective remedy for coated tongue. It will change the color of your tongue from a darkly stained one to a normal one.