Tongue Cleaning Explained

man sticking his tongue out on red background with white teeth

Tongue Cleaning Explained

Quickfire Round With Our Dentist, Dr Upen Vithlani On Tongue Cleaning

What is the yellow stuff on my tongue?

This is a build-up food particles, bacteria and dead cells which all form a white and yellow coating. This coating is also plaque, like the coating that builds up on teeth if we haven’t brushed well enough. The plaque coating contributes to bad breath (also known as halitosis) and harbours bacteria that contribute to severe gum disease.

In smokers this coating can form much quicker and be discoloured from the products of cigarettes.

We often also see this coating build up quicker in people who haven’t hydrated well or have been ill recently – or just do not clean their tongues regularly.

Should I clean my tongue daily?

It only takes 24 hours for plaque coatings to form on teeth and the tongue. When plaque builds up on the tongue you will notice a white or yellow coating which should be removed on a daily basis. Cleaning daily means that the food debris, bacteria and dead cells that plaque is made up of, do not get a chance to settle. This means harmful bacteria cannot proliferate. Some of these bacteria start to release volatile sulphur compounds – which are the cause bad breath. Some of the same bacteria that are involved in causing more severe gum disease. Your tongue is a massive surface in your mouth and a coating on it is therefore a lot of plaque in the mouth!

Cleaning your tongue daily means that you prevent harmful bacteria settling on your tongue in the first place and therefore reducing the total bad bacterial load in the mouth, which means fresher breath, stronger teeth and healthier gums.

A clean mouth requires a clean tongue!

What can I use to clean my tongue?

The most effective way is to incorporate tongue cleaning/scraping into your oral health routine and mechanically clean off the yellow/white coating you see develop on the surface of the tongue.

The best way to do this is by using a well-designed mechanically effective tongue cleaner like the JiBee. A tongue cleaner like the JiBee is the perfect tool to gently scrape away and remove the coating full of bacteria – improve mouth freshness. This is a really effective, comfortable and safe way to clean this coating off in a simple way rather than relying on chemicals like mouthwashes to try tackle bad bacteria on the surface of your tongue or the heads of toothbrushes which aren’t designed for this job or do every little removing the coating effectively and comfortable.

The JiBee tongue cleaner is also created by UK Dentists as well as used and recommended by dental hygienists across the UK.

Is stainless steel harmful for my tongue?

No. The cutlery we use to eat with is made of stainless steel, washed and rinsed and can be reused. In the same way, stainless steel tongue cleaners can be rinsed with water after use and left to dry ready for the next round.

This also means they last a long time.

What I like the about the JiBee are the different colours so we can tell whose who’s in the bathroom.

How do I use a stainless-steel tongue cleaner?

So, the question is – how do you JiBee?

A couple or a few gentle scrapes is really all you need. Don’t rush and do it in front of the bathroom mirror ideally to help guide where you are and know that you have got everything off.

We recommend giving the JiBee a simple rinse under the tap first so it’s a bit wet. The top of the U-shape goes towards the back of the tongue, but not all the way. Push your tongue out to a comfortable position and stroke the U-shape forwards towards the tip of the tongue. Do it two to three times, and even moving the JiBee a little to the side to get the sides of the tongue if needed.

After each stroke, if there is a lot of plaque, rinse the JiBee and everything you have collected into the sink. Give it a good rinse like you would the top of the toothbrush and leave aside.

The JiBee has some thumb grips which have been positioned to help guide you how far back to put it and avoid causing a gag reflex.

Should I use my toothbrush to clean my tongue?

A designated scraper is much better than using your toothbrush head. A tongue scraper would be more effective and suitable because they have a wider span and collect the coating on your tongue within 2-3 strokes. The width of the JiBee tongue cleaner has been specifically designed with the size of average tongues in mind.

Using a toothbrush to clean the tongue could result in bacteria being transferred around the mouth therefore the best recommendation would be a tongue scraper. The bristles at the end of a toothbrush can also damage the mucosa and you have to do many strokes to really clean the tongue effectively, and this can often be uncomfortable, sharp and cause a gag reflex.

Research studies have also shown that a tongue cleaner is more effective at removing volatile sulphur compounds than using a toothbrush to clean your tongue.

Why don’t people clean their tongue?

As a dentist, practicing in western societies, it seems that most people actually don’t clean their tongue because they haven’t really thought about it before, or know how to clean it, or what to use. Growing up, a tongue cleaner like the JiBee, in a very early simple form, was an item in most Indian household’s bathroom shelves.

Some people avoid tongue cleaning because they are afraid of a gag reflex. Some people do have a more hypersensitive gag reflex than others – and don’t worry if you do. I would encourage you to try the JiBee just keep your thumbs on the grips to avoid putting it too far back. And – just take it slowly if you have a hypersensitive gag reflex, it will get easier – and additive when you notice the difference day in day out.

Should I ask my dentist about my tongue?

Yes, your dentist can provide you with advice or more specifically, your dental hygienist or therapist can provide you with great tips on how to improve your tongue health. The JiBee is now stocked in a range of dental practices across the UK so make sure you speak to your dental team about this.

How often do I replace my tongue scraper?

You can replace your tongue scraper every twelve months depending on type. The JiBee is an eco-friendly, sustainable tongue scraper which is longer lasting and can last for much longer.

What is the history behind tongue cleaning?

Tongue cleaning is ancient tradition practiced 1000’s of years ago and is still practiced today in many eastern cultures imperatively in daily routines and seen as being as important as tooth brushing and interdental cleaning. Ancient Ayurvedic Indian medicine and traditional Chinese medicine believe that the toxins on your tongue from bacteria, affect the health of your gut, which is not surprising because your digestion starts with your tongue and saliva.

With this in mind, it is important that every person cleans their tongue, and it shouldn’t be a case of cultures, its importance is the same.

What is our mission?

Our aim, as dentists behind the JiBee, is to continue to raise awareness of tongue cleaning – it’s importance in daily oral health routines as it’s something we are missing out on in western culture, and not talking enough about.

Healthy morning routines are so important to our general health. We know tongue cleaning is a really simple way to improve the health of our mouths (and therefore general health in things like a healthy gut) but also continuing with positive routines that are good for us – which is a bonus in our mental health and well-being as well as the physical wellbeing.

Remember, a JiBee a day, keeps the bad bugs away 🙂

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