A coated tongue, a tongue that isn’t pink and smooth and moist, is a breeding ground for stinky breath.
Here’s the yucky part. Anaerobic bacteria are found in our mouths, especially at the base of the papillae on our tongues. As the bacteria digest the various bits of food and proteins in the mouth, they produce waste products that build up and create that white tongue coating you can see on your tongue on a bad day. These waste products include the volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are major contributors to bad breath.
Bad breath and a coated tongue go together. If you regularly have a coated tongue, you might want to make tongue cleaning a regular part of your daily routine. It’s quick and easy, and it gets results.
How Do I Clean My Tongue? Am I Going To Gag?
Well, yep, you might gag a bit. Practice makes perfect and perfect practice helps a lot. You don’t have to stick your tongue scraper so far back that you gag, but you won’t know your limits until you try. You’ll gag less the more you practice.
A tongue scraper is much better at cleaning a tongue than a toothbrush. By brushing your tongue, you clean some of the white coating off your tongue, but you also push a lot of it down between the papillae of your tongue rather than getting rid of it. That’s just helping you to have more bad breath.
Here is how to clean your tongue, using a tongue scraper. Gently scrape your tongue from back to front, starting at one side of your tongue and, working your way across your tongue, repeat as many times as it takes to clean your tongue from one side to the other. Tongue scrapers come in different shapes and widths. The one I have pretty much covers my tongue at one go. Narrower scrapers take several passes.
More of the white coating develops on the back of the tongue, so it is important to thoroughly clean the back of the tongue to reduce bad breath. This is where you might get to practice that gag reflex. If you gag, don’t go back as far.
It’s also important to be gentle when you’re using a tongue scraper. All you need to do is remove the coating on your tongue, you don’t have to damage your delicate tongue by being too aggressive.
The remedies for bad breath don’t take very long, but you do have to do them daily from now on.
Does Toothpaste Help?
Some toothpastes contain chlorine dioxide or zinc, which oxygenate and neutralize the VSCs produced by anaerobic bacteria. If you put a thin coating of this type of toothpaste on your tongue after cleaning it, you’ll really reduce the possibility of bad breath. You can easily apply it by putting a little bit on your tongue scraper and coating your tongue from as far back as you can manage to the tip. If you can manage it, leave the toothpaste on your tongue for a minute or two while you’re brushing your teeth.
When Should I Clean My Tongue?
The best times to clean your tongue are before you go to be in the evening and in the morning after you get up. In the evening you remove much of the food that the bacteria in your mouth would process overnight. You’ll find that morning breath doesn’t have to be horrible. A morning clean-up will take care of the VSCs and any white coating that have accumulated overnight.
Is This Just Opinion or Do I Really Need To Clean My Tongue?
Here is some boring Scientific Study stuff.
The results of some very small studies on halitosis and oral hygiene methods was reported by Zbys Fedorowicz, who is a periodontist at the Bahrain Ministry of Health. Two studies were reviewed and the results indicated that a tongue scraper can effectively help reduce bad breath for a short period of time. One study reported a 33% reduction in VSCs with brushing teeth and a 40% reduction with tongue scraping. And the VSC levels remained reduced for longer with tongue cleaning than with using a toothbrush. A second trial reported that the levels of volatile sulfur compounds was reduced 45% after tooth brushing and 75% after using tongue scrapers.
Even though these were small studies and not scientifically conclusive, the results for the average person like you and me suggest that it is a good idea to use both your toothbrush and a tongue scraper as part of your daily routine to remedy bad breath.