Do I Need To Brush My Tongue?

Yes, brushing your tongue is a very important part in your oral hygiene routine. There are an estimated 20 billion bacteria in your mouth at any given time and today’s scientists can only account for about 1,000 types. Not all bacteria are bad, but some bacteria have a more negative effect on your mouth than others.

When you brush your teeth, Pacific Smiles dentists recommend that you also clean your tongue to remove any build-up of bacteria that can cause bad breath and dental disease.

What is the most effective way to brush my tongue?

Just like your teeth, we recommend that you clean your tongue following these steps:

  • Clean your tongue twice a day – when you brush your teeth
  • Brush your tongue from back to front with your toothbrush
  • Always rinse your mouth with water
  • You can also use a tongue cleaner and oral rinse to more effectively curb bad breath

What does a healthy tongue look like?

A healthy tongue is pink in colour, clean and covered in tiny papillae (nodules on the surface of the tongue). When you have a routine dental check-up your dentist will be looking to make sure that there are no signs of inflammation or oral cancer.

What does an unhealthy tongue look like?

An unhealthy tongue may appear:

  • Red and swollen
  • Dry and smooth
  • Hairy with a white or black covering similar to shaggy carpet

Often there is an innocent white covering on tongues which is made up of a mix of bacteria, food debris and dead cells. This can be readily removed with regular cleaning.

Does my dentist check my tongue at my check-up?

To ensure that it looks healthy, your dentist will examine your tongue as part of your regular dental check-up.

As part of this your dentist, will examine:

  • the surface of your tongue
  • the sides of your tongue and the underside of your tongue including the floor of your mouth.

Your dentist will be looking for the following conditions:

  • Ulcers (one of the most common conditions of the tongue)
  • Glossitis (inflammation)
  • Geographic Tongue (map like patter of reddish patches)
  • Leukoplakia (white patches – often not dangerous but can be pre-cancerous)
  • Thrush (white spots usually covering tongue and other oral tissues)
  • Oral Cancer

Are you overdue for your routine dental check-up? Don’t let small dental issues become big problems. Prevention is better than cure!

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