The different types of tongue cleaners, why and how to use them
Tongue scrapers and cleaners have been used since ancient times in China and India. Although many different styles of tongue scrapers and tongue brushes have been developed, the main purpose of a tongue cleaner has remained the same, to remove the bacteria, dead cells, and food particles that the tongue collects.
The surface of the tongue is covered with papillae and taste buds, which provide an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. Not only does this bacteria cause bad breath, but the bacteria will spread to other areas of the mouth such as the teeth and gums if the tongue is not cleansed of these bacteria. This can cause dental problems including tooth decay, gum infections, and gum recession.
Recently dentists and hygienists have carried out studies that shows regular cleaning of the tongue is improves dental health and drastically reduces bad breath.
- Why use a tongue cleaner?
- Types of tongue cleaners
- How to use a tongue brush or tongue scraper
- Do you clean your tongue before or after brushing your teeth?
Why use a tongue cleaner?
Tongue bacteria is the main source of bad breath.
Do you have a white tongue or have you ever looked at your tongue and seen white film on your tongue? This white stuff is actually bacteria build up, food particles, dead cells, and even fungi. These decaying bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds, which cause the bad odor in bad breath. Due to this it is very important that you regularly cleanse your tongue of these odor producing bacteria and also of the particles of food or dead cells that will act as fuel for the bacteria.
According to scientists of dental research "tongue bacteria account for 80 to 90 percent of all cases of halitosis(bad breath)". In the remaining 10 to 20% of cases the bad breath originated form the tonsils, stomach, decaying food stuck in between the teeth, tooth decay, or plaque build-up on the teeth. If it is even remotely accurate that 80-90% of bad breath originates from bacteria on the tongue then you better be cleaning and sanitizing your tongue of these bacteria if you want to get rid of bad breath.
Here at BreathMD we believe that using a tongue scraper and cleaning your tongue is the quickest, most effective, and easiest way to reduce halitosis. Many people do not own tongue scrapers and the only cleaning they get is by a mouthwash which is not very effective at removing tongue bacteria or particles. Clinical studies have shown that daily usage or tongue cleaners have a significant effect on removing bacteria and reducing foul odors from ones mouth.
Types of tongue cleaners
Essentially there are two types of tongue cleaners. Tongue brushes and tongue scrapers. Tongue brushes are effective at loosening particles and bacteria that may be lodged or stuck between the papillae and taste buds that cover the surface of the tongue. Tongue scrapers are more effective at gathering bacteria and particles from the tongue and removing them from the mouth.
A toothbrush may be used as a tongue brush. We find that toothbrushes with soft bristles work better then toothbrushes with thick rigid bristles.
There are some tongue cleaners that incorporate a scraper and a brush such as the Orabrush. While those brush and scraper combos are convenient, I find them to do a poor job at scraping or brushing. The saying "jack of all trades, master of none" applies to these.
When purchasing tongue cleaners, it may be a good idea to buy a couple (because they are so cheap) of different styles and see what works best for you.
BreathMD's favorites: After trying many tongue brushes and scrapers, We personally have settled on the "Tongue Cleaner" as a tongue scraper and Dr. Collins Perio Toothbrush or another toothbrush with the new ultra-fine tapered style bristles as a tongue brush.
How to use a tongue brush or tongue scraper
First of all there are various tongue brushes and tongue scrapers and you should follow the instructions that come with it.
For tongue brushes you want to use gentle back and forth strokes on the surface of the tongue, remember to go as far back as you can. After you feel you have done a thorough job swish some water in your mouth for 10 seconds and spit it out to remove all the tongue bacteria and material that was loosened from the brushing. For additional cleaning you can now use a tongue scraper to even better remove the loosened material. If you use a tongue scraper and tongue brush, remember to brush your tongue first, then scrape.
Generally for tongue scrapers you start at the back of the tongue and scrape all the white gunk forward. Rinse your tongue scraper of the stuff it collects several times while cleaning your tongue. Continue use gentle strokes to scrape your tongue until it starts to collect little or no white material.
Here are some general tips to insure that you use a tongue cleaner effectively.
Be Gentle - It its important when scraping or brushing your tongue that you be gentle. Do not press to hard. The tongue is a sensitive organ and daily abusive scraping is not good for it. Using gentle stokes is just as effective.
Rinse before and after use - The tongue cleaner comes in contact with the bacteria of the tongue. It is important to rinse the bacteria off after cleaning the tongue and also to rinse before cleaning the tongue because bacteria or dust may have settled on the cleaner since the last use and you do not want that bacteria or dust in your mouth.
Use a paste - You may try out using a paste on your tongue brush or tongue scraper. You may use toothpaste, a paste of salt and baking soda, or gels formulated for the tongue. See what you like best.
Scrape all areas of tongue - It easy to just scrape the central area of the tongue and neglect the sides. Scrape near the edges as well.
Scrape as far back as you can - The majority of the tongue bacteria that cause bad breath reside far back on the tongue near the throat. Try to scrape as far back as you can in order to get at that bacteria. I find it is very important to be even more gentle while scraping back there as it is more sensitive. Also be sure not to accidentally jab or poke your tonsils with the tongue scraper. I accidentally jabbed one of my tonsils once with my tongue scraper while they where swollen because I happened to be sick and it started bleeding and got infected and that made me even more sick. Learn from me and be careful.
Do you clean your tongue before or after brushing your teeth?
Do you think it's better to use a tongue scraper before or after brushing your teeth?
That is a good question, unfortunately few studies have determined in what order is most effective. So once again you should try both and test it out for yourself. I personally like to clean my tongue first before brushing my teeth but that is just my personal preference. To the right is a poll asking whether you do it before or after. Feel free to see the results or vote for yourself.
The tongue needs to be cleaned, don't neglect it in your oral care regimen. Let us know what tongue scrapers you like, questions, or tips in the comments below. Thanks!