Did you know we spend anywhere from 15 to 23 days of our lives brushing and flossing our teeth? At first glance it seems like a long time, but when compared to the decades we spend completely asleep, it’s not really that hard to wrap the mind around.
But what about brushing the tongue? There are hundreds of different bacteria that live in your mouth, and the unhealthy ones can settle into the small bumps at the back of your tongue responsible for your taste buds. These bacteria can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and most importantly, bad breath.
Here are five reasons you should be scrubbing your tongue and not just your teeth.
Otherwise called halitosis, bad breath is caused by the bad bacteria mentioned above that settles on the back of your tongue. You can combat a lot of this bacteria by placing your toothbrush toward the back of your tongue and scrubbing once you’ve brushed the rest of your teeth. It won’t remove it all in one go, but the more you get in the habit of cleaning like this, the more you’ll remove layers of this surface bacteria. Non-alcohol mouthwash will also help to keep your breath fresh.
Bacteria on the tongue is directly responsible for different types of mouth diseases, especially plaque. By mixing with the food particles that are remaining in your mouth (often on your tongue), bacteria creates plaque that will stick to your teeth and gums. Daily brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings can keep plaque from turning into decay. However, if it’s not treated, decay can cause gum disease, or gingivitis. Your gums become red, inflamed, and loose around teeth, which causes your gums to bleed and even develop into an infection, called periodontal disease.
Coffee and other foods actually can stain your tongue, which makes it “look” furry. However, the discoloration (which isn’t actually furriness) can be removed by, yet again, scrubbing your tongue with your toothbrush.
Oral yeast infection.
If harmful bacteria is not removed from the tongue, naturally occurring yeast in the mouth can flourish and turn into oral thrush. While thrush isn’t all that common, the yeast buildup can form a white film or even patches on top of the tongue. Your dentist can prescribe an antifungal medication to kill the yeast, and brushing the tongue daily (theme of the day) will help prevent it from returning.
Bland taste buds.
This one is actually a huge reason alone to brush your tongue, even if you think you’re impervious to the likes of plaque and gingivitis. If bacteria on the tongue are not removed, it can create a film that covers your taste buds. The flavors of savory foods you normally enjoy will taste a little off until the taste buds are uncovered.