How to clean your tongue properly (Photo: iStock)

When you think of oral hygiene, what do you think of first? Teeth. That's because that's what the TV commercials focus on, that's what our parents hammered into us about the importance of brushing our teeth, and that's what school books taught us about taking care of our teeth.

Interestingly, we hear virtually nothing about tongue hygiene.

We're told to brush twice a day, which most of us do, but what about our tongues? Our tongues are often the perfect place for bacteria to thrive if we do not brush enough. You might think it cleans itself when you brush, but there's a lot more to it than that.

The tongue has many small spaces on its surface where food gets stuck, and these residues, if not cleaned properly, can cause problems like bad breath and other dental and gum problems.

There are tools and techniques you need to know about to make sure you're cleaning your tongue properly. Read on to find out:

Have the right tools

To begin, you need to make sure you have the appropriate tools that can slough all the dirt off efficiently. The two main tools that you can go for are toothbrushes that have a tongue scraper at the back or a separate tongue scraper.


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When choosing a tongue scraper though, make sure you choose a high quality product with good reviews and not low quality ones that can cause injuries.

When it comes to the cleaning agent, you don’t really need any special tongue cleaner since your regular toothpaste should work just fine.

Brush your teeth first

It is recommended that you clean your tongue twice a day after brushing your teeth. This will block out any chance for bacteria to do their damage.

The perfect time to clean your tongue is right after brushing but before rinsing. That little bit of toothpaste can serve as a cleaning agent for your tongue.

Reach as far as possible

As you start the process you need to stick out your tongue as much as much as possible so you’re able to cover a large area.

With your scraper or toothbrush, reach to the back of your tongue up to where you’re comfortable and scrape from back to front.

Apply a bit of pressure as you move your toothbrush or scraper forward, being careful not to hurt yourself or go too far.

Rinse your tool and repeat

With every scrape, you should rinse your tool with water before repeating the action. This is more hygienic because it prevents any bacteria from transferring back to your tongue.

Repeat this process a few more times while being gentler every time until you feel that there is no slimy coating on your tongue.

Do the final rinse

The last step is to rinse your tool and your mouth. At this point your tongue is clean so you can rinse the toothpaste out as you normally would when you’re done brushing your teeth.

If you still feel like you have an uncomfortable coating on your tongue, you might need to scrape gently a few more times before rinsing again.