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Toddlers and Tongue Health

December 5, 2019

When teaching your kids how to brush and floss their teeth, have you instructed them on how to brush their tongues? The tongue has a plethora of places where bacteria can hide. If it isn’t brushed or scraped, those bacteria flourish, even if the teeth and gums are completely cleaned of all food particles and plaque. Our pediatric dentist in Palm Harbor wants to remind you to remember to tell your kids to brush their tongues when they brush their teeth.

How the Tongue Collects Bacteria

It’s important to remember that bacteria are microscopic and that they can hide anywhere there is a tiny crack or crevice. This includes between and on the taste buds, along the bottom of the tongue, and on or around all the supporting structures. When the tongue isn’t brushed or scraped, those bacteria continue to flourish and can contribute to bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay.

When to Brush Your Tongue

It’s important to brush your tongue and have your kids brush their tongues every time they brush their teeth. The good news is that you can simply use your toothbrush to accomplish this task. However, you can also purchase a dedicated tongue scraper, which is designed to clean the tongue and remove all the plaque and bacteria that are hiding in the crevices of the tongue.

It’s important to note that rinsing your mouth or having your kids rinse their mouths with a fluoride or an age-appropriate antibacterial mouthwash won’t kill the bacteria on the tongue. Instead, it will kill and wash away the top layer of the biofilm, leaving the deeper layers intact. This still is not sufficient enough to keep the tongue and mouth free of excessive bacteria.

How to Brush Your Tongue

Brushing the tongue can be accomplished with the same toothbrush you and your kids use to brush your teeth. You can also purchase a tongue scraper from any dental hygiene department in most big-box retailers or at your local drugstore.

Brushing Your Tongue with a Toothbrush

Using a toothbrush to brush your tongue is fairly simple. You want to reach every surface of the tongue by first brushing back and forth across the tongue. You can start anywhere on the tongue but remember that you need to reach every surface of the tongue just like when you brush your teeth and brush along the gumline. Next, brush side to side along the tongue from front to back or back to front. Lastly, rinse your mouth with water to remove all the toothpaste and everything brushed from your tongue and teeth. Our pediatric dentist recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush for this task to prevent causing tiny cuts on your tongue or injuries to your tongue that could be caused by over-brushing.

Using a Tongue Scraper to Scrape Your Tongue

It’s estimated that using a tongue scraper to clean all the bacteria and plaque from the tongue is 30 percent more effective than using a toothbrush. If you are teaching your children how to properly clean their tongues with a tongue scraper, instruct them to stand in front of a mirror and stick out their tongues as far as they can stick them out. Tongue scrapers have a rounded leading edge. That should be placed at the back of the tongue. Next, slowly pull the tongue scraper forward along the surface of the tongue. It’s important not to press too hard, or it could result in injuries to the tongue. It’s always important to start in the middle of the back of the tongue and move the scraper forward toward your teeth, never backward toward your throat. It usually takes one of two passes along the surface to completely remove all the bacteria and plaque. Between passes, we recommend wiping the scraper with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Pediatric Dental Visits with our Children’s Dentist in Palm Harbor

In addition to brushing, flossing, rinsing, and scraping your tongue, remember to schedule regular pediatric dental visits with our children’s dentist in Palm Harbor. Regular professional teeth cleanings and additional services, like dental sealants, can help reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities, and gum disease and find oral health problems early.

To schedule your child’s next dental appointment with our dentist in Palm Harbor, give us a call at 727-786-7551.

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