The Importance of Cleaning Your Tongue Regularly
Brushing your teeth is an important part of your day-to-day health care routine as it is one of the most crucial things you can do to maintain optimum oral health. But did you know that cleaning your tongue could be just as important? Tongue bacteria can accumulate on and under your tongue and contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. In fact, you may develop bad breath if left untreated.
So what can happen if you don’t brush your tongue? Your dentist should be able to notice any warning symptoms, but you may be at risk for developing oral conditions that could be harmful to your health. For example, leukoplakia can develop into oral cancer if left untreated. Here’s what else can occur if you don’t clean your tongue properly.
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More commonly known as bad breath, this is one of those symptoms that you truly don’t want to experience. While it may not affect you directly, it can make people around you very uncomfortable and hard to hold a conversation with. This is the most commonly associated issue with not brushing the tongue or not cleaning it properly. It can also be the most embarrassing!
Halitosis develops when an overgrowth of bacteria develops in your mouth, most often on the back of your tongue. They can cause a foul odor to develop, which can make things unpleasant for anyone you communicate with. To get rid of this, just take the extra time to brush your tongue – especially towards the back!
Black Hairy Tongue
Okay – this might be the most embarrassing side effect! Black Hairy Tongue may sound like a fictitious disease, but it’s 100% real. This condition is more unattractive than it is harmful, but it can develop when your tongue isn’t properly cleaned. It occurs when the papillae (the tiny rounded fleshy things on your tongue) becomes stained from residual food and drink particles. These leftover particles cling to the tongue and stain the papillae, particularly when it is from stain-causing drinks like coffee.
These particles accumulate and build-up on the surface of the tongue, causing the whole organ to take on a dark, fuzzy appearance. While it looks very gnarly, it isn’t directly harmful to your teeth and gums. Typically, a good dental cleaning and tongue brushing should clear it up.
You may be familiar with what a yeast infection is, but did you know you could also develop it in your mouth? Medically referred to as oral thrush, this condition occurs in patients who have bacteria levels that are off the charts. While this can occur for a variety of reasons, the most common is from not brushing your tongue, which can help reduce the amount of bacteria that builds up. You can usually spot this yourself by checking out your tongue in the mirror; the most notable side effects are white spots on the tongue.
If you start to notice these spots, be sure to remember your tongue whenever you brush your pearly whites! You’ll likely need to take a trip to your dentist, as well. Most cases of oral thrush require an antifungal medication to treat it. Just be sure to keep cleaning your tongue to prevent it from coming back!
While there is plenty of bacteria that is actually good for your oral health, a lot of it can cause problems to develop in your mouth. When left to build up on your tongue or around your teeth and gums, this can turn into something much more serious, like gum disease. If you don’t clean your tongue or brush your teeth properly, you significantly increase your risk of developing gingivitis, or worse – periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease accounts for the second and third stage of gum disease, with the latter being a more advanced version of the condition. When left untreated, it can lead to an increased risk of other health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Treating peritonitis and other forms of gum disease will require you to contact your dentist to schedule a check-up so they can advise the best form of treatment for you.
Dulled Taste Buds
If you’re a foodie, this can be the worst side effect yet! As we mentioned, going for days or weeks without brushing your tongue can lead to the development of bacteria on the surface. We’ve outlined what that bacteria can do when left to build up and fester, but did you also know it could affect your ability to taste foods properly?
The accumulation of food particles on the tongue and the subsequent bacteria that develops can mean a thick biofilm can form on the surface. Sounds gross, right? Well, it can also cause your taste buds to be less sharp and your sense of taste to dull. Getting rid of the biofilm should bring back your favorite of the five senses – but it may require a trip to your local dental office!
Keeping Your Tongue Clean
Your tongue should always be a fleshy pink color, with no white patches or discolored build up. This will ensure that you curb halitosis, keep your taste buds strong, and successfully fight periodontal disease! Plus, it could keep you from developing strange conditions like a hairy tongue or an oral yeast infection.
If you think you may have any of these conditions, or you just want to schedule your bi-annual teeth cleaning, contact Beaufils Dental today! We offer complete health dentistry solutions to patients of all ages.