Are we supposed to brush our tongues?

Everyone knows that in order to maintain good oral hygiene, people should clean their mouths daily. To most people, however, this only means brushing your teeth and rinsing the mouth with mouthwash. A smaller group of people remember to floss. But did you know you also need to brush your tongue?

Brushing your tongue is an integral part of cleaning your mouth and ridding it of the bacteria that cause so many oral diseases!

But why exactly is it so important?

The tongue has many crevices and grooves, which make it the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. “Bacteria will accumulate greatly in the areas of the tongue between the taste buds and other tongue structures,” says John D Kling, DDS, of Alexandria, Virginia.

And no, rinsing isn’t enough. Just because the tongue doesn’t develop cavities, people think that there isn’t any build-up left by the food we eat and the sugary beverages we drink.

What is build-up?

Build-up is a biofilm, or a group of micro-organisms on the surface of the tongue. If you do not directly brush your tongue, rinsing your mouth will only kill the outer cells of the biofilm, leaving the cells beneath the surface very much alive and ready to cause bad breath and tooth damage.

There are over 700 species of bacteria that live in your mouth. Because of the bumps and crevices on your tongue, many of them stick to its surface, says Little Things.

The most common outcome of not brushing your tongue is a yeast infection in the mouth known as oral thrush.

The infection presents as white patches on the tongue and inner lips. Some people also experience and excess of white, murky saliva.

The infection is easily treatable though, with antifungal medications. Brushing your tongue regularly can help stave off yeast infections.

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