Many people do not realise that cleaning the tongue can be very beneficial for good health and wellbeing. But why is keeping the tongue fresh important?
The fact is, most diseases start life in the gut and research has shown that the mouth can act as a literal reservoir for microbes that can create inflammation in the gut area. When the gut is not healthy, nor is the body. Left unattended, these microbes can lead to diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and even leaky gut. Not pleasant.
But there is a simple way to avoid this
The digestive tract begins in the mouth; as we chew food, it mixes with saliva and travels down to the stomach. Once food has been digested by the joint actions of the stomach, spleen and pancreas, the small intestine absorbs the nutrients. Waste food is then exited from the body via the large intestine. This digestive system is home to nearly 80% of our immune system.
When we eat, we swallow oral microbes, along with saliva. This is fine if the mouth is healthy but if it is not, unpleasant bacteria can travel down into the digestive system. Many of these bacteria like to live in areas where there is a low oxygen environment i.e. the mouth. If we don’t clean our tongue, these bacteria thrive. Most of the microbes in our mouth are living on our tongue.
This is where good oral hygiene comes into play as when you keep your mouth clean, it helps to create a thin biofilm on the teeth and tongue, thus discouraging these microbes and making it tougher for them to thrive. The important thing is to keep the biofilm on the tongue, gums and teeth thin so that plaque finds it harder to stick. This is referred to by dentists as ‘adhesion inhibition’. You know the feeling when you have had a full dental clean and your teeth feel smooth and shiny – that’s the ideal way that your mouth should feel all of the time.
You may not be able to replicate this at home but by cleaning the tongue as well as your teeth, you can do a whole lot more to improve your oral hygiene for a lifetime.
So now that you know cleaning the tongue is uber important, how do you do it?
How to clean your tongue
Don’t just brush your tongue with your toothbrush. You need to scrape the biofilm (gunk on your tongue) away. This will remove the low oxygen environment that microbes love. If you don’t have a proper tongue cleaner (as used in Indian medicine called ‘Ayurveda’), you can use a metal spoon.
Put the bowl of the spoon on the back of your tongue, without making yourself choke. Press gently and drag the spoon slowly towards the front of your mouth, towards the tip. Now rinse the gunk off the spoon and prepare to be amazed when you see how much there is!
What a wonderful feeling to see this unpleasant biofilm flushed away. Repeat 3 or 4 times and then rinse with water or mouthwash. Now check out your tongue in the mirror and it should look nice and pink and clean. Your breath will smell sweeter and the ability to taste foods should also be enhanced.
So there you have it, a simple and easy way to improve your oral hygiene. The process does not take long and eventually you will get used to doing this every time you clean your teeth. If you think about what happens to your tongue when you are sick, it can become thickly coated and white. These are the microbes multiplying in your mouth and having a field day! Stop them now by cleaning your tongue when you brush and floss.
The condition of our gut has a major impact upon the health of the whole body so by protecting it in this small way, you are making a big difference. Give your gut a break by eliminating these unfriendly microbes and improving your oral hygiene.
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