Watch (and Brush) Your Tongue!

girl with lip piercing and hat stick out her tongue

When it comes to oral hygiene, brushing and flossing often take the spotlight, leaving one crucial part often overlooked: the tongue. At Exceptional Smiles at Landerbrook, we emphasize the importance of comprehensive oral care, which includes regular tongue brushing. Your tongue is not only vital for taste and speech but also serves as a reflection of your overall health. Here is a better understanding of why tongue brushing is essential and what the appearance of your tongue can tell you about your health.

The Importance of Tongue Brushing

  • Reduces Bacteria: The surface of your tongue, with its grooves and textures, can trap bacteria and food particles, contributing to bad breath and tooth decay. Regular tongue brushing helps remove this buildup, reducing harmful bacteria in your mouth.
  • Improves Oral Health: By eliminating excess bacteria, tongue brushing can prevent oral health issues such as cavities, gum disease, and infections. A clean tongue also enhances the effectiveness of brushing and flossing your teeth.
  • Enhances Taste: A coated tongue can obstruct your taste buds, diminishing your sense of taste. Regular tongue cleaning can restore and even improve your tasting abilities, making meals more enjoyable.

What Your Tongue Can Tell About Your Overall Health

The appearance of your tongue can provide valuable clues about your body’s health:

  • White Coating: A white film on the tongue could indicate oral thrush, a yeast infection that occurs when there is an overgrowth of fungus. It can also be a sign of dehydration or poor oral hygiene.
  • Red Tongue: A bright red tongue can be a symptom of vitamin deficiencies, particularly B12 and folic acid. It can also indicate a fever or a condition known as geographic tongue, where patches on the tongue’s surface have a map-like appearance.
  • Black and Hairy Appearance: Though it sounds alarming, a black, hairy tongue is usually harmless and results from an overgrowth of papillae trapping bacteria and other substances. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking, or certain medications.
  • Sores or Bumps: Persistent sores, lumps, or pain on the tongue can be signs of oral cancer, especially if they don’t heal within two weeks. Other conditions like canker sores or herpes may also manifest on the tongue.

Best Practices for Tongue Brushing

  • Use the Right Tool: You can use a toothbrush with soft bristles or a specialized tongue scraper. Gently brush or scrape from the back of the tongue to the front to remove the coating.
  • Be Gentle: Avoid being too aggressive, as it can damage the tongue’s surface. If using a toothbrush, brush in circular motions to cover all areas.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: After brushing or scraping, rinse your mouth with water or an alcohol-free mouthwash to remove any loosened debris.
  • Make It a Routine: Incorporate tongue brushing into your daily oral hygiene routine, ideally twice a day after brushing your teeth.

At Exceptional Smiles at Landerbrook, we believe that a healthy tongue is a critical component of oral and overall health. By including tongue brushing in your daily routine, you not only maintain fresh breath but also contribute to a healthier mouth and body. If you notice any persistent changes in the appearance of your tongue, schedule a visit with us. Regular dental check-ups allow us to monitor your oral health and provide guidance tailored to your specific needs. Remember, a clean tongue is a cornerstone of a vibrant, healthy smile!

Posted on behalf of Exceptional Smiles

5825 Landerbrook Drive Suite #121
Mayfield Heights, OH 44124

Phone: (440) 335-5930


Mon - Wed: 7am – 3pm
Thu: 7am – 7pm
Fri: 7am – 3pm
Sat - Sun: Closed

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5825 Landerbrook Drive Suite #121
Mayfield Heights, OH 44124

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Thu: 7am – 7pm
Fri: 7am – 3pm
Sat - Sun: Closed