The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. While you may be a regular twice-a-day-for-two-minutes brusher, there is still one place you might be forgetting to brush every day: your tongue. Learn how to brush your tongue properly to help with bad breath and keep your mouth feeling fresh.
Does Brushing Your Tongue Help with Bad Breath?
Although the American Dental Association says brushing your tongue isn’t a necessary step towards good oral health in the same way brushing your teeth and flossing are, there is some evidence that suggests it can help keep bad breath at bay.
Bad breath can happen anytime from the hundreds of bad breath-causing bacteria that naturally live in your mouth. When you eat, bacteria feeds on the food left in your mouth and causes bad breath.
Another cause of stinky breath? Your mouth might not be making enough saliva. Saliva is important because it works around the clock to wash out your mouth. If there’s not enough, your mouth isn’t being cleaned as much as it should be.
If you have a coated tongue—a buildup of debris, bacteria and dead cells—due to smoking, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene or medication use, brushing could help remove the bacteria and freshen your breath.
Do You Need a Tongue Scraper/Cleaner?
If you don’t want to brush your tongue with your toothbrush, you can remove the bacteria and debris on your tongue using a tongue scraper. To use the scraper, place it at the back of your tongue and pull it forward to the tip of your tongue. You may need to do this more than once, rinsing off the debris before starting again.1 While this isn’t a necessary step in your dental routine, it can be a useful way to go the extra mile for your oral health.1 Since scraping your tongue is basically the same as brushing your tongue, there’s no need to do both.
How to Brush Your Tongue
When you stick your tongue out, you may see a white or brown coating in the back. That’s where most bad breath bacteria hides out. Follow these steps to brush your tongue and remove lingering bacteria:2
- Apply toothpaste to your toothbrush
- Brush your teeth normally
- Place the toothbrush at the back of your tongue
- Move the toothbrush back and forth using a gentle scrubbing motion
Keep in mind that you should be replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, so if you’re using a designated tongue scraper, you can pick up a new toothbrush and scraper at the same time, in the same section of your local store.
How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth and Tongue?
To keep your teeth clean and healthy, brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. This helps remove plaque buildup, which can cause gum disease and tooth decay if left unchecked.3 The most convenient time to clean your tongue is right after you finish brushing your teeth either in the morning, evening or both.4
Now that you know how to brush your tongue, you’re ready to help your mouth feel really clean. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste like Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair Extra Fresh which helps actively repair acid-weakened enamel and freshens your breath.
- Tongue Scrapers. American Dental Association. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tongue-scrapers. Accessed 8/17/22.
- Proper Brushing PDF. ADHA. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/tongue-scrapers/. Accessed 8/17/22.
- How to keep your teeth clean. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-teeth-and-gums/how-to-keep-your-teeth-clean/. Accessed 8/17/22.
- Does Tongue Scraping Actually Work? – Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/does-tongue-scraping-actually-work-and-should-i-be-doing-it/. Accessed 12/5/22.