How To Clean Your Tongue: A Comprehensive Guide

How to do it correctly and with what tools

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By Alex

how to clean your tongue

Why is it important to know how to clean your tongue? Maintaining oral hygiene extends beyond brushing teeth. A crucial yet overlooked aspect is cleaning the tongue for optimal health. The coating that forms on the tongue should be removed to expel toxins and residues.

Let’s see how to do it and why tongue cleaning is important and how to do it correctly.

What are the benefits of tongue cleaning?

Our mouth hosts over 700 different species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Not all of these microorganisms have an impact on health, but the use of medications, smoking, alcohol, or sugar contributes to their proliferation and imbalance of the oral microbiota.

Furthermore, some bacteria can become pathogens and cause infections to the gums (gingivitis), teeth (cavities), and even to the stomach, intestines, and even the heart.

A proper oral hygiene practice, which also includes tongue cleaning, allows us to obtain other important benefits for our body:

  1. Prevents dental and gum diseases. Thanks to the removal of bacteria and toxins accumulated on the tongue, teeth, and gums also benefit positively, thus favoring a valid prevention from oral cavity disorders, such as plaque, cavities, and tartar. It also helps prevent halitosis.
  2. Improves the sense of taste. A clean and healthy tongue is more capable of tasting and savoring what you eat, thanks to the action of taste buds not obstructed by other food residues or bacteria.
  3. Supports the immune system. By eliminating waste and potentially harmful agents through tongue cleaning, an effective action is carried out in favor of our immune defenses. It avoids the reabsorption of toxins into the body and promotes proper organ functionality starting from the oral cavity.
  4. Stimulates digestion. Tongue cleaning stimulates proper digestive processes, which begins in the mouth thanks to the action of enzymes present in saliva, which knead and work on food to facilitate its breakdown.

In addition, some people have deeper or wider natural fissures or larger papillae on the tongue, which trap and retain food residues, causing inflammation and sometimes bad breath. In this regard, a tongue scraper can be useful for removing them.

How to clean your tongue effectively

Cleaning your tongue is an essential part of maintaining good oral hygiene. Not only does it help freshen your breath, but it also removes bacteria and debris that can lead to dental issues and bad breath.

Here are some simple steps to effectively clean your tongue:

  • Choose the Right Tool: There are various tools available for cleaning your tongue, including tongue scrapers and toothbrushes with tongue cleaners on the back. Choose whichever you prefer or find most effective.
  • Start at the Back: Stick out your tongue and gently reach the back of it with your chosen cleaning tool. This is where most of the bacteria and debris tend to accumulate.
  • Scrape or Brush: Using gentle pressure, scrape or brush the surface of your tongue from the back to the front. Repeat this motion several times to ensure you cover the entire surface.
  • Rinse: After each scrape or brush, rinse your mouth and the cleaning tool with water to remove any loosened debris. This will also help prevent the bacteria from re-entering your mouth.
  • Repeat as Needed: Depending on the amount of buildup on your tongue, you may need to repeat the scraping or brushing process several times to thoroughly clean it.
  • Be Gentle: It’s important to be gentle when cleaning your tongue to avoid causing any irritation or damage. Use light pressure and avoid scraping too aggressively.
  • Focus on the Sides: Don’t forget to clean the sides of your tongue as well, as bacteria can accumulate there too.
  • Clean Regularly: Make tongue cleaning a regular part of your oral hygiene routine. Ideally, you should clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth, which is typically twice a day.
  • Finish with Mouthwash: After cleaning your tongue, rinse your mouth with mouthwash to kill any remaining bacteria and leave your mouth feeling fresh.

how to clean your tongue

What does the white coating on the tongue mean?

It sometimes happens that a more or less thick layer, almost whitish, forms on the tongue.

This surface mucus comes from gastric reflux or nasal discharge. By removing it with a tongue scraper, the bacteria that cause ulcers on the tongue, acne, psoriasis on the skin, and joint pains are eliminated.

Excessive consumption of coffee, tea, dairy products, or cigarettes can also increase this deposit.

How to remove the white coating on the tongue

This practice, also called brushing, should be part of daily oral hygiene. Cleaning the tongue also removes the typical whitish coating. It often signals the persistence of bacteria and dead cells and is often responsible for bad breath.

This good habit can become a daily routine along with brushing your teeth in the morning after breakfast.

To perform a proper tongue cleaning, just follow a few simple steps:

  • stretch out your tongue out of your mouth, in order to try to clean as much surface as possible.
  • scrape or brush with the chosen tool going from the back to the front of the tongue, without exerting excessive pressure that could cause redness or irritation. If possible, it is good to go towards the root of the tongue, where residues tend to accumulate more.
  • rinse your mouth, using a mouthwash or simply with a solution based on water and baking soda, once the residues have been removed.
  • clean the tongue scraper as well, rinsing it, so that you have it available for further use

How to remove dirt from the tongue

Just gently scrape from the back of the mouth to the front 3 or 4 times. The goal is not to damage the papillae, even if they regularly regenerate.

It is best to rinse your mouth with warm water, gargle, and spit. It should be done after brushing your teeth and obviously after meals.

How to clean your tongue without gagging

Cleaning your tongue without gagging can be achieved by following a few simple techniques:

  • Relax: Take deep breaths and try to relax your throat muscles before starting.
  • Use Gentle Pressure: Apply gentle pressure when scraping or brushing your tongue to avoid triggering the gag reflex.
  • Start Slowly: Begin cleaning from the middle of your tongue and gradually work your way towards the back. This can help desensitize the gag reflex.
  • Focus on the Front: Concentrate on cleaning the front and middle part of your tongue where most of the bacteria and debris accumulate.
  • Short Strokes: Instead of long strokes, use short, quick strokes to clean your tongue more effectively without triggering the gag reflex.
  • Practice: With regular practice, your gag reflex may become less sensitive over time, making tongue cleaning easier.

What tongue cleaners should you use

There are several tongue cleaning tools available, including tongue scrapers and toothbrushes with tongue cleaners on the back. Tongue scrapers are often made of plastic or metal and have a curved edge to remove bacteria and debris effectively.

Toothbrushes with tongue cleaners feature a textured surface on the back of the brush head specifically designed for cleaning the tongue. Choose a tool that you find comfortable to use and effectively removes buildup from your tongue. Ensure that whatever tool you choose is gentle enough to avoid causing irritation or damage to your tongue.

This tool allows you to gently scrape the tongue simply and quickly, to free it from bacteria, dirt, and mucus.

The tongue scraper or tongue cleaner is not an invention of our century. Perhaps not everyone knows that the scraper used by Napoleon Bonaparte was sold at auction in 2015 for the sum of 18,000 euros!

how to clean your tongue
A tongue scraper is all you need!

How to clean your tongue with a spoon

To clean the tongue, the tongue scraper is the most common tool, but you can also use a spoon, while the toothbrush is less suitable, as it only moves mucus and toxins.

Take a spoon and run the back against the palate, as if you were grating it on the tongue. The operation can be repeated several times, being careful to rinse the spoon well after each passage. The tongue will be clean when there are no more deposits on the spoon.

Tongue cleaning in Ayurveda

After every meal, it is customary to brush your teeth with a toothbrush, but there is another tool to complete the oral routine: the tongue scraper.

In Ayurveda, this ancient practice is considered a key element of the purification ritual that should help disinfect the body. The tongue is, in fact, considered the gateway to the digestive system. It is the only internal part of the body that can be easily observed, providing various information about the state of the body.

It is a U-shaped accessory, made of plastic, copper, or steel depending on the model, which is used to scrape the top of the tongue, to clean and remove residual food deposits.

Alongside sacred Ayurvedic herbs, such as Tulsi, Ashwagandha, and Shatavari, and practices such as Ayurvedic massage, the removal of the whitish coating from the tongue with the appropriate tongue scraper also finds its place. Some Ayurvedic tongue cleaners are also used.

Does mouthwash clean your tongue

Mouthwash can help clean your tongue to some extent, but it’s not as effective as using a dedicated tongue cleaner like a tongue scraper or a toothbrush with a tongue cleaner on the back.

Mouthwash can help rinse away bacteria and food particles from the surface of your tongue, especially if it contains antiseptic ingredients. However, it may not be as thorough at removing buildup as physically scraping or brushing your tongue.

For optimal tongue cleaning, it’s recommended to use a tongue scraper or toothbrush specifically designed for cleaning the tongue in conjunction with mouthwash for overall oral hygiene.

Tongue cleaning in children

Tongue cleaning in children is crucial for maintaining oral hygiene. Begin early with soft-bristled toothbrushes or tongue scrapers designed for kids. Lead by example and make it fun by incorporating games or flavored products. Emphasize gentle cleaning to avoid discomfort, and supervise initially.

Encourage consistency, ideally after brushing teeth in the morning and before bed. Consider a reward system for motivation and educate them about the benefits, like fresh breath and preventing bacteria buildup.

By integrating tongue cleaning into their routine with positivity and support, children can develop lifelong oral hygiene habits.

how to clean your tongue

How to clean a tongue piercing

Cleaning a tongue piercing is essential to prevent infection and promote healing. Here’s how to properly clean a tongue piercing:

  • Wash Your Hands: Before touching your piercing, thoroughly wash your hands with antibacterial soap to reduce the risk of introducing bacteria.
  • Rinse with Saline Solution: Prepare a saline solution by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt with 8 ounces of warm distilled water. Rinse your mouth with the saline solution for 30-60 seconds after eating, drinking, or smoking, and before bed. This helps to keep the piercing clean and reduces irritation.
  • Gentle Brushing: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush your tongue, focusing on the area around the piercing. This helps remove any buildup of plaque or debris.
  • Avoid Alcohol-based Mouthwash: Avoid using alcohol-based mouthwash, as it can be too harsh and may delay the healing process. Instead, opt for an alcohol-free, antimicrobial mouthwash or rinse recommended by your piercer.
  • Limit Oral Contact: Avoid kissing, oral sex, or putting foreign objects in your mouth, such as pens or fingernails, to prevent introducing bacteria to the piercing site.
  • Watch for Signs of Infection: Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as increased pain, swelling, redness, or discharge. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your piercer or a healthcare professional promptly.
  • Follow Aftercare Instructions: Follow any specific aftercare instructions provided by your piercer. This may include avoiding certain foods or activities during the initial healing period.
  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your piercer to monitor the healing progress and address any concerns.

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