Brushing your teeth is essential. You already know that.
As a local Concord business owner of Willow Pass Dental Care and a board-certified dentist and prosthodontist, I can definitively state that brushing your teeth is a cornerstone oral health habit. However, did you know that brushing the rest of your mouth, not just your teeth, can be highly beneficial as well?
In addition to brushing just your teeth, you should brush the inside of your mouth as well. As it turns out, many of the benefits (and some of the drawbacks) associated with dental brushing also applies to the brushing of the soft tissues of the mouth that include the tongue and the gums.
The chemical and mechanical effects of brushing your teeth, namely the removal of potentially destructive microbes from dental surfaces, can also be applied to the gums and the surface of the tongue.
Flossing and regular visits to Willow Pass Dental Care for checkups are also highly recommended, but brushing is the foundation for an effective dental hygiene routine.
Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of a healthy dental hygiene routine. We have been taught, told, and exhorted to brush our teeth from the emergence of our very first tooth.
Recent headlines would suggest that sparkling water might not be such a great alternative to just plain old water. But is bubbly, carbonated water really that bad?
Tongue Brushing Benefits
Your tongue provides an entirely different microenvironment than that of your teeth or your gums for a variety of bacterial strains.
Many of these bacterial strains are harmless, and there are some that are even beneficial. However, the tiny bumps called papillae on the surface of the tongue also serve to trap food particles and food debris. Naturally, this can lead to the proliferation of some bad strains of bacteria.
Do You Brush Your Tongue?
The primary concern of an overgrowth of microbes on the tongue is the resulting odor or foul breath also called halitosis. Brushing your tongue will assist in controlling or eliminating bad breath. Furthermore, tongue brushing can also help reduce the total number of potentially destructive bacteria in the mouth which will be a net benefit overall. Over time, many people’s tongues acquire an unseemly white or colored coating consisting of plaque and food debris. By brushing your tongue, the natural pink color will return, which indicates a healthy tongue.
One excellent alternative to tongue brushing is tongue scraping with a dedicated tongue scraper. These instruments are typically designed with a handle similar to a toothbrush as shown in the illustration, and a head that is designed to mechanically clean the surface of the upper tongue.
Did you know that some 50-90% of bad breath (halitosis) can be traced back to the tongue?
Gum Brushing Benefits
Your gums are the connective tissues that help hold your teeth firmly in place, provide them nourishing nutrients, and protect their roots from infection. As a result, when the gums are compromised, so is the entire health of your mouth.
Gently brushing your gums while you brush your teeth will go a long way towards promoting overall gum health - provided that you brush lightly.
The benefits of brushing your gums include the reduction and removal of plaque and food debris from the gumline. One of the primary causes of gingivitis, periodontitis, and gum recession is a buildup of harmful bacteria on the gumline and subsequent infiltration below the gumline.
Carefully and gently brushing along the gumline will help control bacteria and prevent infiltration. Furthermore, gentle brushing will have a stimulatory, massage-like effect on the gums enhancing blood flow, relieving stress, and mitigating tissue pain.
When It Comes To Your Gums: Be Careful, Be Gentle
The gums, while resilient, are no match for the abrasive power of hard scrubbing. Instead, I recommend that you brush gently with a soft toothbrush head. I recommend you read my article on toothbrushes.
I also recommend rinsing off any toothpaste, which can also be abrasive, beforehand. If these two recommendations are not heeded, brushing your gums can result in severe gum damage.
When it comes to brushing your tongue, it is essential to avoid the temptation to over brush or scrape. The goal is to control harmful bacteria, not eliminate all bacteria. There is no additional benefit whatsoever for spending extra time brushing the tongue. Instead, brush your tongue for about 10 to 15 seconds and move on. Furthermore, scraping too hard or too often can damage your taste buds.
Brushing Your Gums and Tongue
The beneficial effects of both cleaning your gums and brushing your tongue cannot be realized without also brushing your teeth. It would be safe to say that brushing just the gums and tongue will result in no net oral health benefit without gently scrubbing off the bacteria on your teeth as well. Research shows, that while brushing the soft tissues reduced the amount of microbial flora in the mouth, the results showed no significant positive effect on the amount of plaque in the mouth over time. Studies show that cleaning the tongue alone resulted in a net increase in the amount of cavity-causing strains of bacteria.
Dr. Reza's Picks
BEST TONGUE SCRAPERS & CLEANERS
Dr. Tung's Stainless Steel Tongue Cleaner
Made of high-quality stainless steel. The curved cleaning edge removes bacteria and soft plaque in seconds. Also is guaranteed by Dr. Tung's. Sells for $7.26 here.
The Pureline Tongue Cleaner revolutionized the tongue cleaner category. It is embraced by dentists across the country and is regarded as the leader in quality and effectiveness. Amazon sells the tongue cleaner in a pack of 3 for $11.95.
Over 581 reviews on this tongue cleaner with most giving it a 5-star rating. The Orabrush Tongue Cleaner features ultra-soft, micro-pointed bristles that reach deep into the uneven crevices of your tongue to loosen and rid of harmful bacteria. The bristles are designed after an oral surgeon's scrub brush. The scraper then collects and removes the bacteria and residue generated from brushing and helping fight bad breath.
Mae of surgical stainless steel. This tongue scraper has a thicker curved edge compared to other competitor tongue scrapers. It is very effective to clean your tongue without risks of cuts or abrasions. They even provide a lifetime warranty. Sells in a two-pack for $6.97 on Amazon.
DR. REZA KHAZAIE