The question of is tongue cleaning necessary was covered in an earlier blog. Here, we will take a look at how to properly clean your tongue (sometimes this action is also called tongue scraping).
Tongue cleaning is an ancient habit that carries huge benefits for your oral health and your breath… but it needs to be done consistently and correctly. Benefits of tongue cleaning include:
Those are great benefits, but this is not a habit that you do a few times and the benefits result. It requires consistency and should be taken up as a lifelong habit, not just a passing fancy. In fact, it could take a few weeks before you see significant results, so keep at it!
To begin, one should adopt the practice as a daily habit. Set your mindset that this is something you will want to do every day for the rest of your life. Bacteria are super survivors–interestingly, recent scientific studies have discovered bacteria that can exist for years out in space! The point is that you must brush, floss and tongue clean daily (if not twice a day) to keep bacterial growth under control.
How often should you clean your tongue? Some sources recommend that you clean your tongue after every meal, but that would likely fail as it would be hard to maintain. Twice a day is quite doable and highly beneficial, clean once in the morning and again before bed. And if that proves tough, then at least once a day–morning or evening.
IMPORTANT: Just as with flossing, part of the purpose is to remove debris and gunk, but the main reason that one flosses and cleans one’s tongue is to disrupt and disturb the bacterial growth cycle. As bacteria grow back quickly, this means it takes DAILY repetition to control it.
It is good to rinse the tongue cleaner between scrapes, just to clear off the debris and gunk. It does not take much but it can be awkward if you have to turn the water on and off for each rinse. So, just have a gentle (and non-wasteful) flow of water running to make it easy and convenient to rinse.
The biggest problem with tongue scraping for most people is the “gag reflex” which can be quite uncomfortable. Over time this reflex will diminish but at first it can be enough to make you want to quit!
One solution is to start off with the scraper in the middle area of your tongue. Over time you can gradually work your way further back as you get accustomed to the sensation. And, at any rate, you don’t want to go too far back as this can injure and irritate those “bumps” at the back of your tongue.
Above all, use common sense and avoid areas of irritation or sensitivity.
The motion is always back to front AND it is not a scrubbing motion. You want to gently place the scraper on one side of the tongue and gently “scrape” from back to front several times (rinsing after each pull). Then repeat on the other side and finally in the middle. This means 9-12 pulls in all, pretty fast and simple!
Be gentle! Use just enough pressure to cleanse the top surface of your tongue, you are not digging into the tongue to excavate, it is a skimming action.
IMPORTANT: Always make sure that your tongue cleaner has no nicks, burrs or rough edges. This is one reason we recommend a surgical-grade, stainless steel tongue cleaner. They are hard and maintain their edges providing a superior and safer cleaning experience.
Finally, give your tongue cleaner a quick rinse and you can even use a tad of soap. Place it somewhere that it can air dry and so be ready for your next cleaning.
There you go, very easy and super simple. With time and repetition, you won’t give it a second thought as you add it to your dental and oral care regimen.
And, by the way, we do offer a really amazing tongue cleaner that we designed for ease of use and maximum comfort. You can check out our stainless steel tongue cleaner on our e-store.