So, you’ve just spent 5 minutes of your precious time brushing your teeth and flossing. They feel great and your mouth smell minty fresh – or does it?
What about that other place in your mouth full of strands of tissue that make the perfect hiding place for all of those nasty germs that you just brushed off your teeth? Look at your tongue right now. Is there a whitish film on it? Chances are there is some degree of coating on your tongue and it’s removal should become part of your home care routine.
It’s easy to forget the tongue while you’re busy focusing on your teeth and gums, but bacteria, plaque, viruses, food and dead cells love to accumulate amid all the nooks and crannies on your tongue and contribute to poor oral health and bad breath. In fact, studies show that up to 80% of bad breath originates on the tongue.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with that sulphurous odour that smells like rotten eggs. Well, the reason why bad breath is such a common problem is that the germs on the tongue produce this smelly gas, yet it is an area of the mouth that is often overlooked during our home care.
And it’s not enough to just brush your tongue after you have taken care of your teeth. The toothbrush to designed for the smooth, solid surfaces of your teeth and gums whereas your tongue has a rougher, hair-like landscape. Germs must be scraped out of these deep areas not just brushed around. Mouth rinses are not effective either in removing this coating and many brands contain alcohol which “dry out” the mouth allowing the breeding of even more bacteria.
Although there are tons of products on the market to clean your tongue, we advise our patients to stick to the tongue scrapers such as the one in the photo above. Used once in the morning and again during the day, these scrapers are glided along the tongue’s surface in a back to front direction bringing the white coating forward and off the tongue. This will help eliminate the bacteria and their volatile odours. Be careful not to scrape too harshly as you can irritate the tongue’s surface. It is also important to keep well hydrated during the day as a dry mouth also contributes to bad breath. Using sugar-free gums and mints during the day can assist your salvia in keeping your mouth moist. If dry mouth has been a problem for you, you may want to read our article, “Dry Mouth.” You can access it here:
The Mouth-Body Connection
If you have persistent bad breath or you suspect that the coating on your tongue is more than just a collection of germs or food you should come in for a dental examination as soon as possible. There are other conditions/diseases of the tongue that cause discolouration, swelling or flaking of the tongue’s tissue that require more attention than just a simple cleaning. Most are easily treated with medication while others can be more serious or even life threatening. Bad breath can result from gum disease, cavities or any number of health conditions. It is important to remember that your mouth is an area of the body where illnesses of the body often manifest themselves. We refer to this as the Mouth-Body connection and during dental examinations we see more than just your teeth and gums. Please talk to us about your concerns. We’re here to help.
Yours in better dental health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team