Meyer Orthodontics in Brookings Blog

Don’t Forget Your Tongue, Oral Health is More than Just Your Teeth!

Big Cat Yawn

Since this is a blog about oral health, it’s surely no surprise we write frequently about brushing your teeth. But oral health is about more than just teeth, you need to take care of your tongue, too.

Bear with us — this one is going to be a little gross. We’ll spare you the mouth photos (except this cat one)!

Your mouth is home to 32 teeth, 10,000 taste buds and billions of bacterium. That’s right, billions. But don’t freak out, it’s healthy to have a thriving ecosystem in your mouth.

These bacterium serve a number of important purposes, including helping break down food, mop up shed blood cells, and even compete with organisms that are harmful, protecting you from infection.

Not all of those bacterium are good, however. One particularly quickly spreading organism is anaerobic bacteria. These are common in the bowel, abscesses, in very wet places in the environment where organic material is rotting… and in the mouth.

Anaerobes, Your Tongue and Morning Breath

When anaerobes break down proteins for nutrients, they produce a bad smell. So, while you’re sleeping at night, they’re snuggling in among the papillae and tastebuds on your tongue, breaking down proteins in your mouth and making sure you start your day with morning breath.

More than half the bacteria in your mouth is on the surface of your tongue. By cleaning your tongue when you bush, you can significantly reduce the anaerobic bacteria in your mouth, cutting down on morning breath and improving your oral health.

So when you brush your teeth, take the time to scrub your tongue, too. Many toothbrushes these days have soft rubber tongue brushes on the back side of the tooth brush head. You can also just use your brush. You should clean the top and side of your tongue, focusing especially on the back of your tongue.

Finally, rinse with your preferred mouth wash and enjoy the satisfaction of a clean and healthy mouth.