Ask a Dentist

July 23, 2021

Q: How Do I Clean My Tongue?

Woman sticking out her tongue.

When you think about your regular dental routine, you immediately think about cleaning your teeth. However, we at Dental Image Therapy Centres believe there’s another part of your mouth that deserves as much attention and care as your chompers - your tongue.

Your tongue helps you taste, swallow, digest, breathe and speak. Brushing and flossing your teeth is essential for optimal oral health, but cleaning your tongue is beneficial to your oral hygiene as well.

Why Should You Clean Your Tongue?

Even after brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, your tongue can still trap bacteria in your mouth, if it’s not cared for properly. Bacteria growth is one of the causes of bad breath, which you may not realize is coming from your tongue. According to an article published in the European Journal of Dentistry, bad breath (also known as halitosis) is prevalent 50 per cent of the time among the general population living in the US. A white coating on the upper surface of the tongue will begin to form if your tongue is not cleaned.

A 2018 study in the Journal of Periodontal Research found that participants who cleaned their tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper had a significantly less white coating on their tongue and felt their tongue was cleaner after two weeks. It proves that tongue brushing and scraping can improve your oral health and reduce bad breath.

How To Use A Tongue Scraper

Cleaning your tongue should not be painful. Here are some tips to clean your tongue effectively:

  • Place the scraper at the back of the tongue and gently bring it forward.
  • Move the scraper across your tongue multiple times at different angles.
  • Remove the excess food or debris from your tongue by rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash.
  • Remove and rinse the scraper each time to keep it clean and germ-free.


Are you still curious about tongue scraping? Check out our previous Ask A Dentist post to learn more.

How To Brush Your Tongue

Brushing your tongue helps to improve the health of your mouth by removing excess buildup. Follow these steps to reduce the cavities and bad breath in your mouth:

  • Put a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush.
  • Start at the back of your tongue and gently brush your way forward.
  • Use gentle but firm pressure in back-and-forth motions, similar to brushing your teeth.


After cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush or scraper, always remember to rinse or gargle your mouth and clean the scraper or toothbrush with water. You’ll know that your cleaning technique works when the discolored debris on your tongue disappears – leaving it clean, pink and refreshed. If you're still unsure of the effectiveness of your technique, contact your dental hygienist for tips or a demonstration.

How Often Should You Clean Your Tongue?

The best way to reduce the bacteria in your mouth is to clean your tongue at least twice a day after brushing your teeth. Removing the debris from your tongue before bedtime can reduce bad morning breath significantly. Making a habit of cleaning your entire mouth (including your tongue) will keep your breath fresh and your mouth healthy. 


Also, be sure to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Book an appointment at one of our Winnipeg dental clinic locations (Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre) to keep your teeth pearly white and your tongue in good health. 


Book Your Next Dental Appointment Today

Maybe it's time for your and your family's regular checkup and cleaning, you have a toothache or you need to get your treatment plan going - whatever the reason, we're here to help you get your confident smile. Whether you're a new patient or a returning friend, we can't wait to see you at your next appointment at either of our Winnipeg clinics!

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