Tongue Cleaning

3 min

The tongue is a muscular organ present in our mouth that helps in chewing & swallowing food. It also helps us in speech and to perceive taste senses.

Tongue cleaning is the gentle scrubbing of the tongue to remove the deposits and debris. Any leftover debris can cause bad breath or halitosis.

Is it required to clean your tongue?

Our tongue has bumps and grooves on its surface they are called papillae lined by a thin layer of mucous membrane.

The papilla is the outer lining of the dorsum of the tongue that is responsible for the taste perception.

They tend to harbor bacteria, dead skin cells and food particles causing white deposition or discoloration of the tongue leading to bad breath and bacterial infection of teeth and gums.

Microbes in Tongue:

The following are some the bacteria that reside in your tongue

Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus gordonii, Streptococcus sobrinus and Fusobacterium nucleatum (mostly obtained from the scrapes from tongue).

Tongue cleaning reduces the bacterial colonization in the mouth and promotes oral hygiene.

Tongue cleaning along with other oral hygiene practices is necessary for plaque control.


Tongue brushing: The use of a moistened toothbrush in a scraping motion from the back of the tongue to the tip of the tongue.

Tongue scraping: The use of a device resembling a prong or flexible U shaped model. The tongue cleaner is glided from the back of the tongue to its tip with slight pressure.


Tongue cleaning is done daily along with other oral hygiene practices like brushing and dental flossing.

Type of tongue cleaners: it is available in various forms like a toothbrush with a scraping surface for the tongue or in the form of metal scrapers.

Metal tongue cleaners must be sterilized in hot water after use.

Plastic cleaners are fragile and harmless to the tissue surface.

Silicon-based tongue cleaners have a smooth surface that is necessary only to scrape the debris.

Choose a type based on your comfort!


  • Do on a daily basis after brushing and dental flossing.
  • Use proper aids to clean your tongue.
  • Use mouthwashes after cleaning your tongue.
  • Scrape only from the back of the tongue to the tip.
  • Do it with gentle pressure.
  • Stay hydrated always.
  • Report to your dentist for any query or abnormalities.


  • Do not scrape your tongue from its tip to back.
  • Do not exert more pressure causing gagging or bleeding.
  • Avoid alcohol mouthwashes as they dehydrate your tongue.
  • Do not apply toothpaste on your tongue to clean it.


The pathogen present in the tongue also colonizes in the oral cavity and has a role in the spread of the infection in the other parts of the body.

They are isolated in the thrombus removed from the heart valves. The direct association between the tongue microbes and the effects on general health is still under study.

The tongue, however, acts as an indicator of any underlying deficiency. In vitamin B12 deficiency the tongue appears red with the absence of the papilla.

White pigments or scrapes are isolated from the tongue in oral thrush (candidiasis).

White nonremovable layers in the tongue resemble leukoplakia (a benign condition).

Any sore or ulcers on the borders of the tongue that does not heal for more two weeks indicates a lesion that may or may not be a tumor.

Strawberry like a tongue with elevations and depressions is seen in scarlet fever.

I hope you have got the gist of why tongue cleaning is of paramount importance and should be taken care of in equal importance with your teeth.


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Dr Arun

Dr. Arun is a practicing dentist with more than 11 years of experience. Loves to blog and in constant search of new knowledge in dentistry and health niche.


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