When you think of oral health, what comes to mind first?
Your teeth, maybe your gums?
How about your tongue? You might think about your tongue when you bite it or burn it! But the truth of the matter is that your tongue is an integral part of your health.
The tongue is actually comprised of eight muscles. The four “intrinsic muscles” aren’t attached to any bones, allowing the tongue to change shape. The four extrinsic muscles, however, are attached to bone in the jaw, thereby allowing the tongue to change position. Together, these muscles allow your tongue to move in different directions, facilitating speech and much-needed food handling while you eat.
Since the tongue is obviously important to many facets of life, it’s important to take care of it! To that end, using a tongue scraper can help remove extra bacteria particles from the tongue and help keep your mouth healthy. Keep reading to learn more interesting facts about your tongue health!
Did you know?
The average tongue is comprised of 2,000-10,000 taste buds. Those with the most taste buds are labeled as “supertasters” since they experience flavors much more intensely than others.
And those little pink and white dots on your tongue? Those are not your taste buds! Instead, they’re called papillae, or hair-like projections that taste buds rest on top of. Another interesting fact is that, while most muscles in our body eventually tire, the tongue never does. That’s a huge benefit since we use it for an awful lot of eating and talking!
Why do I have a bad taste in my mouth?
Our taste buds are actually clusters of bulbous nerve endings on the tongue and in the lining of the mouth that provide us with the sense of taste. And just like we can taste delicious things like your mom’s chocolate cake, they also can serve as a source of discomfort when you experience bad tastes—especially the lingering ones!
Many of our patients describe a common, lingering bad taste they experience as metallic, or like they were sucking on a bunch of old coins. In many cases, this taste hangs around for days or even weeks. If this is the case, it’s important that you give us a call, since this can be a symptom of something more serious than just coffee breath. But before getting in to see us, you can also use a tool like a tongue scraper and see if that helps.
Which brings us to…
Tongue scraping is actually a centuries–old method of removing bacteria particles that can cause bad breath. Over time, bacteria and dead cells (in addition to food particles) can build up. It’s important to remove these particles to help prevent against dental decay and halitosis.
Many patients don’t realize that using a tongue scraper can also improve your overall oral health. By removing the bacteria that lingers on the tongue, you’re also helping ward off cavities-causing bacteria plus preventing again gum disease.
Another benefit to using tongue scrapers is an improved sense of taste. Some research has shown that twice-daily tongue scraping can help you better distinguish between bitter, sweet, salty and sour flavors.
And finally, you can also improve the appearance of your tongue with scraping. Your tongue becomes covered in a white film and can even become yellow due to the buildup of food, beverages or bacteria. These films can easily be removed through dedicated tongue scraping routine.
How do you do it?
Start by standing in front of your mirror, then take the rounded end of the tongue scraper and place it at the back of your tongue. If starting in the back makes you gag, place it in the middle of your tongue instead.
Gently place the scraper on the tongue and pull it forward. Always go from back to front, never the opposite way (not like you could)! And after each swipe, wipe off the tongue scraper. Keep repeating this motion until your tongue is completely clean.
Types of tongue scrapers
The market is full of tongue scraping products. Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner is a popular device that uses high-grade stainless steel which is impervious to bacteria, is touted as more comfortable, and is considerably gentler on the tongue than plastic.
Another option is the Orabrush, which features ultra-soft, micro-pointed bristles that reach deep into the uneven crevices of your tongue. Designed after a surgeon’s scrub brush, the bristles loosen stinky bacteria that cause bad breath.
No matter what device you use, it is important to remember to always clean your tongue! It’s an important set of muscles and a vital component of your health.