Why cleaning your tongue is all in the best possible taste

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Dental therapist and Comparethetreatment.com’s oral health expert, Melonie Prebble, considers the necessary art of tongue cleaning.

Have you looked at your tongue lately? Well, I looked at mine the other day and, as I work in the dental profession, promptly took myself off to the bathroom to de-plaque my tongue following a strong cup of coffee!

Even though I am a dental hygienist and therapist, it doesn’t make me immune to dental disease! After all, I am human too!

So, how important is tongue cleaning?

You taste with it, talk with it and, from time to time, you may even make gestures with it!

But take a closer look at the surface of your tongue and you will see millions of nodules called papillae and it is these that give the tongue its rough texture.

Between the papillae, there are around 9,000 tastebuds: sweet, sour, bitter and salt. Nasty bacteria and debris collect within the surface of the tongue and –believe it or not – release gases that cause bad breath and can affect your teeth and your gums.

The food debris left behind on the tongue can even lead to a whole array of colourful coatings, too, including green, brown, yellow and even black!

It is easy to forget to clean your tongue but, in actual fact, it’s just as important as tooth brushing and interdental cleaning.

And studies have shown that tongue cleaning can reduce the bad breath gases (known as volatile sulphur compounds) by as much as 75%.

If you don't keep your tongue clean and feeling fantastic you will start to lose your taste so ensure it is an everyday part of your daily routine.

And, interestingly, it appears tongue cleaning is nothing new – the Romans did it and I have discovered that tongue cleaners come in all shapes and sizes.

So, if you struggle with bad breath or bad taste, I would first suggest a dental health check with your dental hygienist or therapist.

Discuss any concerns you may have and he or she will be able to advise how best to clean your tongue.

Tongue cleaners come in all shapes and sizes.

I recently tested a variety of implements. The Philips Sonicare TongueCare+  comes out top for me.  It was simple to attach the tongue brush to my Sonicare handle and the tiny rubber bristles cleaned the surface bacteria from my tongue.  The brush comes with an antibacterial spray that leaves your mouth tasting and feeling fresh. 

Most importantly, it’s quick, simple and powerful. 

It's the whole mouth bacteria-fighting package!

You can check out how to use the tongue brush by visiting the Philips tutorials on YouTube.


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