Everyone knows how important it is to brush and floss your teeth regularly, especially with braces, but not everyone knows that there’s another important part of your mouth to brush — your tongue. Yes, you should brush your tongue! Plaque and bacteria don’t just stick to your teeth. They also coat your tongue, and not cleaning it means you can transfer all that to your teeth, even right after brushing.
Larson Orthodontics knows how important it is to keep your mouth clean, especially during treatment with braces or clear aligners. Your tongue should be part of your oral hygiene routine. How should you clean your tongue, and why should you clean your tongue? Let’s see why cleaning your tongue with braces is so important!
Why Is My Tongue So Important?
There’s a lot more to your tongue than just helping you eat or talk. Your tongue can actually say a lot about your current health, both oral and overall. Is your tongue swollen? You could be having an allergic reaction, or you may have strep or other more serious illnesses. Is it white? That could be a sign of dehydration, anemia, or nutritional deficiency. Do you have canker sores on your tongue? You may be stressed or reacting to food. You may have bitten your tongue or you may be reacting to new mouthwash.
Even if your tongue looks normal, it can still carry bacteria that could be harmful to your teeth and gums. Left alone, that bacteria can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. That’s why we recommend you clean your tongue and teeth every day.
Why Is It Important to Keep My Tongue Clean?
Why is it so important to clean your tongue? Much of your oral health depends on how clean your tongue is. Let’s see what can happen when the tongue is left unclean.
- Bacteria can spread. Bacteria lives and collects on your tongue just as it does on your teeth. Cleaning your teeth is important, but cleaning your teeth without cleaning your tongue may defeat the purpose. That’s because the bacteria left on your tongue can move to your teeth, making them dirty all over again.
- The bacteria can cause bad breath. Bacteria left to ferment on your tongue can cause halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath. That nasty taste in the back of your mouth? That’s likely bacteria on your tongue. Remove, and your breath will be better and your mouth healthier!
The bacteria can cause gum disease. Bacteria moving from the tongue to the gums can cause or worsen gum disease. These can lead to red, swollen, or bleeding gums. Eventually, it can lead to infection and tooth loss. Gum disease is especially bad with braces because it can slow or temporarily stop your braces treatment until your gum disease is treated and your gums are healed completely.
How Do I Clean My Tongue Properly?
So how do you clean your tongue? The easiest way is to use your soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste. Brush from back to front, and don’t forget to get the sides and underneath! Brush gently, so you don’t damage the taste buds on top of your tongue or the delicate tissue underneath. Brush your tongue after your teeth, then rinse to get the best cleaning. In some cases, brushing on the far back of the tongue can trigger the gag reflex. If that’s the case, try starting at the middle and working your way back bit by bit each day.
You can also use a tongue scraper device, which can scrub your tongue more thoroughly. Scrape your tongue from back to front for the best results. Just be careful if you use a tongue scraper. Scrubbing too hard with it could actually puncture or cut your tongue.
Keeping Up Great Oral Hygiene With Braces
Cleaning your tongue is as important as cleaning your teeth, especially with braces. Great oral hygiene is key to successful treatment with braces or clear aligners. At Larson Orthodontics, we encourage our patients to keep up their oral hygiene throughout their treatment.
Are you ready for treatment with braces or clear aligners? If so, start your free consultation in the Alexandria, VA, area with Larson Orthodontics, and we’ll help you get your journey started right away!