Importance of cleaning your tongue

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated May 4, 2024

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated May 4, 2024

We all know that brushing and flossing are important for our teeth and gum health. But what about your tongue? Isn’t the tongue also a part of your mouth? Cleaning your tongue is as important as brushing to prevent tooth cavities. Yes! You read it right. 

The tongue is one of the strongest muscles in your body that helps you speak, taste food and beverages, differentiate hot and cold temperatures, etc. But very few people include tongue cleaning in the oral hygiene regime. 

So why clean your tongue?

Our tongue does not have a smooth surface. Its uppermost layer is made up of small elevated structures called the papillae which help us with the sensation of taste.

These papillae or taste buds tend to gather a lot of food and bacteria in the crevices that surround them. This leads to poor tongue hygiene which can cause the following problems

Skipping cleaning your tongue can promote tooth cavities

Are you noticing cavities despite brushing well? The reason could be the bacteria trapped on your tongue. These trapped bacteria can cause cavities . In the resting position, our tongue lies very close to our teeth. Food particles that remain stuck in between your teeth, attract these bacteria to destroy your teeth and cause cavities.

Taste changes

Do you find a sour or bad taste in your mouth whenever you eat or drink something? The bacteria on the tongue eat trapped food and release gases and waste products. These products hamper your sense of taste and give you a distinctly bad taste. They also hamper your digestion.


Not cleaning your tongue can also cause acidity levels to rise. The bacteria that remain on the surface of the tongue ferment the food particles and release acids. This acid then mixes with your saliva and increases the pH of your mouth. This can also be one of the hidden causes of acidity.

50% of bad breath can be cured by just cleaning your tongue daily

You’ve done all you can to cure your bad breath but you still can’t get rid of it, despite brushing and flossing regularly. It’s high time you start cleaning your tongue regularly.

Just rinsing after meals will not help. Using mouthwashes are just temporary aids to get rid of bad breath. But physical scrapping of your tongue is important to remove the biofilm of bacteria, saliva, and food.

Tongue scrapers are widely available in the market. Pick any one that suits your needs. Some toothbrushes come with tongue scrapers on the back of the brush head which do a decent job of cleaning your tongue.

If you can’t find either of these, use your toothbrush to gently clean your tongue with water. Do not use hard circular movements. Use gentle sweeping strokes to pull all the junk out and away from your mouth.

Do you avoid cleaning your tongue because you gag?

Gagging is a normal reflex and nothing to be scared of. To avoid a gag reflex while cleaning your tongue, start from the middle and work your ways towards the edge. Don’t try to push your brush too far inside your mouth. Pushing it further inside could even lead to vomiting. So try taking deep breaths and relax.

Don’t forget to practice the golden oral health trio of – brushing, flossing and tongue scraping regularly to maintain the best oral hygiene.



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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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