Should You Brush Your Tongue With Toothpaste? (Pros & Cons)

Should You Brush Your Tongue With Toothpaste? (Pros & Cons)

Oral hygiene is extremely important, after all, you always want to keep your mouth clean and healthy! 

Everyone knows that you should be brushing your teeth twice a day to ensure that you maintain optimal oral hygiene. 

What many people often neglect, however, is cleaning that goes beyond the teeth. 

The subject of brushing your tongue is something that has often been debated. Should you be brushing your tongue? If you do, should you use toothpaste? 

If you are wondering what the correct protocol is when it comes to brushing your tongue, then look no further! Today, we’ll be covering everything you need to know on the subject. 

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at: 

  • What is tongue brushing, and why is it important?
  • Whether you should use toothpaste when brushing your tongue
  • How to brush your tongue with toothpaste
  • Alternative ways to clean your tongue.

Let’s go ahead and jump right into it! 

What is tongue brushing and why is it important?

Tongue brushing, as the name suggests, simply refers to the act of brushing your tongue as a part of your oral hygiene routine

While brushing your teeth is something that everyone is aware should be done every day, the same awareness does not extend to tongue brushing. 

Brushing your tongue is something that is extremely important, but is also often overlooked. 

The texture of your tongue makes it highly susceptible to harboring bacteria. This means that you want to make sure that you are brushing your tongue regularly to eliminate this bacteria. 

Bacteria will accumulate greatly in the areas of the tongue between the taste buds and other tongue structures,” says John D. Kling. “It’s not smooth. There are crevices and elevations all over the tongue, and the bacteria will hide in these areas unless it is removed.”

Anaerobic bacteria act on amino acids (methionine, cysteine, and cystine) containing sulfur in the oral detachment epithelial cells, leukocytes, saliva, and food to produce volatile sulfur compounds, which lead to bad breath. 

Regularly brushing your tongue can provide a huge range of benefits. It can help to protect your taste buds and greatly lowers the risk of infection, the spread of bacteria and development of bad breath. 

Here are many diseases that can affect the tongue, and a large number of these can be prevented by regular tongue brushing. 

Brushing or scraping the bacteria from your tongue can also affect your taste buds. As Dr. Michael Kosdon explains: “By scraping it off, you can actually taste things better because germs are covering where the taste buds are situated.

One of the most common reasons that tongue brushing is considered to be so important, however, is the way that it combats halitosis or bad odor in the mouth. 

Many people struggling with bad breath find themselves brushing their teeth frequently and vigorously – and yet the bad odor still lingers1 

The root cause of this problem, however, is likely to be bacteria on the tongue. 

This is one of the many reasons why experts recommend brushing or cleaning your tongue regularly

Toothpaste or no toothpaste?  

When brushing your tongue, is it best to use toothpaste on your brush? Or, should you elect to use a clean brush instead? 

Most experts recommend that you apply a small dab of toothpaste on your brush when brushing your tongue. 

Applying toothpaste to the tongue when brushing will help to remove odor and combat bacteria or infection of the tongue. 

That being said, many toothpastes contain ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate which can irritate the tongue

Similarly, brushing your tongue with fluoride toothpaste may increase the risk of you accidentally swallowing the toothpaste. 

This may cause some nausea or stomach pain, as the ingestion of excessive fluoride is known to cause gastrointestinal issues

If you notice any pain, inflammation, or discomfort when brushing your tongue, then the chemicals in your toothpaste may be to blame!

This can often be solved by switching to toothpaste with less harsh ingredients, such as fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate-free toothpaste

While brushing your tongue without toothpaste is unlikely to be harmful in any way, it is also unlikely to be particularly beneficial either. 

You are better off using a dab of toothpaste on your brush or utilizing a different tongue-cleaning method altogether.

How to brush your tongue with toothpaste

So, how exactly do you go about brushing your tongue with toothpaste? There are a few steps that you will need to take to ensure that your tongue is free from all harmful bacteria. 

Let’s go ahead and break down how to brush your tongue correctly:

  1. Apply a small dab of toothpaste to a soft bristle toothbrush. Using a hard or medium bristle brush may irritate the tongue

  2. Starting at the back of your tongue, swipe forward gently across the surface of the tongue. Do not apply too much pressure, as this may cause discomfort! Try also to avoid reaching too far back into your throat with the toothbrush, as this is likely to trigger the gag reflex

  3. Using gentle but firm strokes, brush forward towards the tip of your tongue until you have cleaned the entire surface. Rinse your mouth out with water to ensure that no bacteria lingers on the tongue

Just like that – you’ve cleaned your tongue correctly using toothpaste! If you notice any discomfort or irritation while brushing your tongue, it may be a sign to stop and look at alternative toothpaste brands or tongue cleaning methods. 

Benefits of cleaning your tongue with toothpaste

It reduces plaque formation. A research study found that cleaning your tongue with or without toothpaste reduces plaque formation in young children. 

Tongue cleaning reduces bad breath. A clinical trial study found that tongue cleaning with a toothbrush and a tongue scraper lowers the production of volatile sulfur compounds, which lead to bad breath or halitosis. 

Reduces the growth of bacteria on the tongue. A crossover clinical trial study showed that tongue cleaning reduced the growth of bacteria on the tongue, but that levels only stayed low if the cleaning occurred regularly. And they also recommended that you brush your teeth and clean your tongue regularly for good oral health.

Alternative ways to clean your tongue

While brushing your tongue with toothpaste is certainly one of the more common ways to go about cleaning your tongue, it may not be the best. 

Research has shown that using a tongue scraper is far more effective in cleaning the tongue compared to the use of a toothbrush! 

During a clinical trial on the subject, the effectiveness of toothbrushes and tongue scrapers were compared regarding their ability to remove volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) which contribute to halitosis. 

The results of this clinical trial found that brushing the tongue with a toothbrush decreased these compounds by 45%. The use of a tongue scraper, however, reduced the compounds by a whopping 75%! 

Not only are tongue scrapers more effective at removing bacteria from the tongue, but they are also a method of tongue cleaning that does not require the use of toothpaste. 

This is something that can be a great help to those who suffer from sensitivities to the chemicals found in many toothpastes. 

If you decide to switch to a tongue scraper to clean your tongue, it is a good idea to invest in a high-quality product to ensure that it is effective and will stand the test of time. 

This stainless steel tongue scraper from Boka is a great, affordable option that can gently yet effectively clean your tongue! 

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