Cleaning Your Tongue to Prevent Bad Breath


If you have bad breath and have never thought of cleaning your tongue, consider the fact that scientific studies have shown the bacteria and fungi produce malodorous compounds that account for over 80% of cases of bad breath. The remaining cases are due to plaque and rotting food around and in between teeth, gum disease, tooth decay, or other problems such as infected throat or sinus.

There are up to 500 different types of bacteria in people's mouths and the amounts of each vary among individuals. Some of these bacteria, feeding on proteins from food residues, produce unpleasing smelling substances, often similar to sulphur or bad eggs. Many millions of these bacteria can live on the top and the back of the tongue and remain there quite undisturbed unless we make a conscious effort to remove them. The tongue is covered with papillae which tend to trap food particles, fungi (such as Candida), and dead cells from the surface of the tongue and the inside of the cheeks.

In the light of this information it becomes evident that tongue cleaning is an important addition to anyone's daily toilet activities, and all the more so for someone suffering from persistent bad breath problems.

Tongue cleaning can be transported out with the toothbrush but is probably much more efficiently done with a tongue scraper, a device made of metal or plastic, specifically designed for the job. When beginning a regime of tongue scraping you may find a tendency to gag as you get the brush or scraper at the back of the mouth. Do not give up though, as this can mostly be overcome with persistence and practice. You can practice with a simple plastic spoon on the tongue, gradually reaching further and further back.

If you are using your normal toothbrush it is a good idea to put a very small amount of toothpaste on it, as it makes it taste better and probably does a more thorough cleaning job. As the surface of the tongue is spongy you can do a better job with a tongue scraper. You can choose between a type that looks like a miniature rake and can be used with one hand, or one that that is arch-shaped and is used with both hands covering a wider area. The idea is to reach as far back as you can and then firmly scrape forward lifting and holding debris as you go. You may need to do this two or three times, rinsing off the scraper in between.

You may find tongue cleaning tricky at first but it is worth persevering with until it becomes second nature. Do it just once a day, after your normal tooth-brushing, either in the morning or evening, depending on when you have most time. The benefits of fresher breath should become noticeable within a couple of weeks.

There are other benefits to tongue cleaning apart from reducing halitosis. Scientific research has identified different bacteria often found in the mouth, with some serious systemic diseases such as heart attack, cerebral stroke, pneumonia, and others. By means of effective tongue cleaning you are drastically cutting the numbers of all sorts of bacteria in the mouth and hence the risk of developing these disorders.

Another benefit is the improvement in taste perception that you are likely to experience. A lot of taste buds are located on the back of the tongue and if they have been covered up or clogged up over a period of time your sense of taste may well have been gradually diminished. You may well be pleasantly surprised if you able to enjoy your food more as a result of a better taste perception.