Grosse Pointe & Shelby Township


Why & How to Clean Your Tongue to Improve Your Oral Health

A woman learning how to clean her tongue with a tongue scraper.

Dental hygiene isn’t much of a mystery. You brush your teeth and gums, and floss in between. If you’re really dedicated, you also incorporate mouthwash. But what about your tongue? You may not think about why or how to clean your tongue, but it’s an equally important part to fight bacteria in your mouth!

Do You Really Need to Clean Your Tongue?

Even though nobody really talks about it, your tongue is just as vulnerable to bacteria as the rest of your mouth. For that reason, cleaning your tongue is a necessity. Daily brushing and flossing is a given – but how often do you clean your tongue? For some, it’s almost never!

Your teeth and gums experience unique problems associated with bacteria. Primarily, cavities in your teeth and periodontal disease along your gum tissue. While your tongue won’t form cavities, it can suffer issues of inflammation like your gums!

In addition to inflammation, your tongue become more vulnerable to infections. While bacteria are the most likely culprit behind swelling of the tongue, anything from food particles to unshed dead cells can be a reason for it.

How to Clean Your Tongue Properly

Fortunately, learning how to clean your tongue doesn’t take long. It’s one of the easiest parts of your mouth to clean! Here are three different ways you can work towards minimizing bacteria on your mouth:

Tongue Scraper

Like brushing and flossing, the best way to accomplish your goal is to use a tool designed specifically for the purpose! A tongue scraper, as the name implies, is a fantastic tool you can use to quickly and easily scrape bacteria away from your mouth.

Using a tongue scraper makes it easy to clean the entire surface of your tongue. Simply place the scraper as far back as you comfortably can on your tongue and, with some pressure, pull it forward. You’ll want to rinse the scraper after each pull to ensure you clean off any bacteria or food particles it may have removed.

Don’t forget to get the sides of your tongue as well. Your tongue is full of little bumps, and every tiny bit can be a safe haven for thousands of bacteria cells.


Of course, you don’t need a tongue scraper to clean your tongue! Your toothbrush also works just fine! In fact, using your toothbrush to clean your tongue can make it easier to manage your dental hygiene tools and make you more likely to keep your tongue clean!

Similar to a tongue scraper, use the bristles of the brush to gently scrub your tongue across every surface. It may be slightly rougher than using a tongue scraper, but if you feel pain, you’re probably using too much pressure.


Another way you can help keep your tongue clean is with mouthwashes or rinses. You should note, however, that just like your teeth, a mouth rinse isn’t enough to remove all the bacteria!

Using a mouthwash should be considered a supplement to brushing or scraping. It will help with bacteria hiding in the hardest-to-reach recesses of your tongue. Even if you use mouthwash daily, don’t think your tongue will be completely clean.

Benefits of Cleaning Your Tongue

Great oral health comes with several benefits, and that’s true specifically of cleaning your tongue. In addition to learning how to clean your tongue, here are some reasons why you should clean your tongue!

Improve Your Breath

Bacteria in your mouth is almost always the root cause of bad breath. If you’ve ever brushed your teeth and gums but still identify a hint of foul breath, it’s likely to be your tongue!

Because exhaling pushes air over your tongue, that bacteria affects your breath more than other bacteria. When you use a toothbrush or tongue scraper to remove it, your breath will be instantly fresher! A little mouth wash can increase this effect, giving you the minty-fresh breath you want.

Reduce Bacteria Risks

Damage to your enamel is caused by bacteria in your mouth. If your tongue is full of bacteria, the chances of it transferring to your teeth or gums is increased. Cleaning your tongue reduces the overall number of bacteria in your mouth, creating a healthier environment. This prevents cavities or gum disease!

Improve Tongue Appearance

Healthy tongues look reddish-pink. Bacteria on your tongue can give it a pale, white appearance or even leave white residue all over it! Even if the growth is benign, it’s rather unsightly.

Remove bacteria from your tongue to restore it to its natural health. If it’s been a while since you’ve ever brushed your tongue, chances are you’ll notice immediate improvements! Plus, over the following days or weeks, the increased health of your oral biome will help undo any discoloration from bacteria or minor inflammation.

Keep Your Smile Healthy

We want to help you maintain good oral health and a beautiful smile. Regular teeth cleaning and dental check-ups are an important part of your routine, just like brushing and flossing. Schedule an appointment with us or call and take the first step toward keeping your smile radiant.

Grosse Pointe Farms: (313) 881-2480

Shelby Township: (586) 803-8300

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