When asked about oral health and having a healthy mouth and smile, most people would think or talk about the brushing and flossing of their teeth. However, the majority of the oral surfaces in our mouth aren’t even our teeth! Most forget about the gums, cheeks, and tongue which actually make up the majority of our mouths.
Did you know that our mouths are actually home to over 700 different bacteria strains? These strains of bacteria are the culprits behind bad breath and they love to stick on all surfaces of your mouth both soft and hard. This includes your cheeks, your gums and yes even your tongue. Not only cannot cleaning your tongue surface result in you having some seriously bad breath but it can also lead to a white discoloration of your tongue. Both of these problems are caused by a coat of bacteria along with other debris that is trapped on your tongue. The surface of your tongue is covered in these tiny little bumps that are called papillae. Within the small grooves of the papillae, bacteria, dead skin cells, and other food particles are collected. This layer of debris and bacteria will remain where it is causing bad breath and leading to white discoloration of your tongue until it is cleaned off. The problem with only brushing your teeth and not cleaning your tongue is that the bacteria on your tongue will also redeposit itself onto your teeth and gums after you have already cleaned them. This not only increases the probability of plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth, but it also increases your chance of developing tooth decay and or gum disease.
Your overall oral health depends on you cleaning all parts and surfaces of your mouth and not just your teeth. Your tongue health is that of the same importance of your teeth, and keeping your tongue clean and bacteria free is essential in trying to prevent all serious oral health problems.
Many people use mouthwash to help with their bad breath and they think that mouthwash is the best way to combat unpleasant breath. Unfortunately for them, this is not true, in most cases bad breath is caused by a group of bacteria that is covering the tongue. Swishing mouthwash around will help remove the outer bacteria layer on your tongue but the cells underneath will still be present and causing bad breath. In order to fully remove bad breath from your mouth, you must physically remove the layers of bacteria coating your tongue. This can be done using a special tongue brush or scraper which are commonly found in the dental hygienic section of any store. This may also possibly be completed through the use of the back of your own toothbrush. Many toothbrushes nowadays are designed and made with a built-in tongue cleaner right on the back side.
If you start brushing and cleaning your tongue as well as brushing your teeth and you may notice a major difference. If however you have tried these solutions and are still experiencing bad breath there could be another dental problem at hand, consult your dental hygienist as soon as possible.