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Tongue Talk

Tongue Hygiene

Tongue scraping and brushing have been practiced for hundreds of years but are still little appreciated or used by the public. Throughout the centuries, tongue scrapers have been constructed of thin, flexible strips of wood, various meals, ivory, mother-of-pearl, whalebone, celluloid, tortoiseshell, and plastic.

For years, scientific evidence has validated the need to practice habitual and thorough tongue brushing as part of daily home oral hygiene procedures. However, recent research, though limited in scope, points to the fact that tongue cleaning is not much better than mouthwash or brushing your teeth when your goal is breath control. That being said, there is somthing to say for the whole oral cleaning package, so this author believes tongue brushing or scraping has some breath control value, even if the effects are short-lived.

Because the tongue has a rough and porous surface, it collects food particles and bacteria. 

Plaque is a bacterial film that forms when food particles collect on teeth, promoting tooth decay and gum disease. If the tongue isn't cleaned regularly and continues to harbor these bacteria, it can serve as a reservoir and re-seed the teeth and gums with bacteria


Not only do the bacteria coating the tongue contribute to plaque formation, they also can cause odor, resulting in halitosis.

The solution to these problems is brushing your tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush in good condition as often as you brush your teeth. An alternative to brushing the tongue is the use of a tongue scraper, which is a hand-held device, usually with serrated edges, designed to remove bacteria from the tongue by drawing them across its surface.

Regardless of how you clean your tongue, it is imprtant to attack the back, where many odors originate due to larger papillae. Additionally, the sides and tip of your tongue can house bacteria that are waiting to create havoc within your mouth, so clean them as well. To summarize, get the stern, bow, port and starboard. Get that tongue in ship shape!

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