You have been a good patient and cared for your teeth and braces just like Dr. Yan Razdolsky and the Forever Smiles Team have instructed. But did you know there’s still more you can do to help protect your braces, teeth and gums from harmful bacteria that cause plaque and lead to a whole host of other problems?
Brushing away debris and bacteria from tooth surfaces and flossing between teeth is paramount to good oral hygiene, but these things can also build up on your tongue over time. This may lead to bad breath and have a negative impact on your overall oral health. But there is a solution… the tongue scraper!
Tongue scrapers have been in use for centuries. Once an oral tool used primarily by the well-to-do, Eastern civilizations have utilized tongue scrapers made from materials such as wood to various precious metals, even gold! Despite Western civilizations placing less importance on tongue scraping, in more recent decades, we have begun to have a better understanding of the importance of the practice, and of course have turned more commonly to ones made of plastic.
“Tongue scraping has many benefits for your oral health,” said board-certified orthodontist Dr. Yan Razdolsky. “In addition to the removal of bacteria that cause bad breath and dental decay, tongue scraping can improve your tongue’s appearance and overall taste sensation.”
That’s right, although studies are limited, it is suggested that using a tongue scraper twice daily can improve your ability to distinguish between sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. The theory is that using a scraper helps patients who have a “coated tongue” or a buildup of bacteria and/or dead cells trapped on the tongue’s surface. This can be a result of medication, dry mouth, inconsistent brushing, illness, certain foods, or habits like smoking. The good news, evidence indicates that plaque-forming streptococcal counts decrease significantly simply by cleaning the tongue.
And scraping can improve your tongues appearance as well? Yes, it can! Buildup of excess mucus can turn your tongue a white or colored hue. Daily scraping can help remove this coating, restoring the tongue to a natural healthy pink.
Tongue scraping can also help reduce bad breath. While this in no way replaces brushing your teeth for an overall clean, one 2004 study found that scraping was more effective than brushing at removing odor-causing bacteria, even over brushing the tongue with a traditional soft bristle brush. Although tongue coating was removed by both methods, the scraper performed as much as 30 percent better in reducing production of volatile sulfur compounds.
Although you now know improved tongue hygiene can help with bad breath, make your tongue look better, and help prevent dental issues, Dr. Yan warns when you wear braces there’s no substitute for practicing proper overall oral hygiene.
“When you wear braces, food easily gets lodged in brackets, wires and o-rings which can not only lead to bad breath, but a lot of other dental issues as well,” Dr. Yan said. “That’s why flossing, brushing, and rinsing with water is a great step one, which can naturally be followed by a little 30-second tongue scraping for good measure. With this added routine, you can boost your overall dental health and help your Forever Smiles orthodontic treatment go smoothly.”