- Brushing and scraping are equally effective ways of cleaning your tongue.
- You should brush or scrape your tongue twice a day.
- This removes bacteria, food debris, dead cells, and plaque that can build up in your mouth.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Sure, you’ve probably been told to brush your teeth since you were a kid. But how about brushing your tongue?
That’s right, scraping or brushing your tongue is equally important for your oral hygiene as brushing your pearly whites. It can also help prevent bad breath, plaque buildup, and cavities.
Here’s why you need to clean your tongue and how you should do it.
Why you need to clean your tongue
“The tongue needs to be brushed because it is a reservoir for bacteria, food debris, and cells. In fact, the main form of bad breath (halitosis) is due to bacterial growth that is harbored on the tongue,” says Flavia Pirih DDS, PhD, an associate professor of periodontics at the UCLA School of Dentistry.
Additionally, bacteria on the tongue may contribute to dental plaque, which is a biofilm of bacteria that can lead to cavities and gingivitis.
Too much plaque on your tongue can also alter your sense of taste since it could “cover-up” the tastebuds on your tongue.
How to brush your tongue with a toothbrush
You can brush your tongue either before or after you brush your teeth, whichever you prefer. Pirih says you should clean your tongue twice a day: once in the morning and once before going to bed. To properly brush your tongue, she says to follow these four steps:
- Using the same toothbrush you have for your teeth, start from the back of the tongue and move forward.
- You can use a back and forth motion, similar to brushing your teeth.
- Make sure that all aspects of the tongue get brushed.
- Rinse the toothbrush after use.
By following these steps, you can effectively remove the biofilm from your tongue, resulting in better overall dental health, and not to mention, fresher breath.
How to clean your tongue with a scraper
Pirih says to follow these three steps to properly use your tongue scraper:
- Before or after brushing your teeth, place the scraper on the back of the tongue and move it forward.
- Scrape several times in different directions to be sure to cover the whole tongue.
- Rinse the scraper after use.
You should either brush or scrape your tongue twice a day, Pirih says.
If you don’t brush your tongue, bacteria and other particles will continue to build up on it, which can lead to an increased risk of bad breath and plaque buildup.
That’s why, brushing your tongue is just as important as brushing your teeth and flossing. Combined, these three habits will ensure that you have the best oral hygiene. Clean your tongue twice a day for the best results.