As a holistic dental practice in Jacksonville, Florida we believe caring for your oral health will help you maintain your overall health and wellness. We notice that when our society talks about oral health and dental disease prevention they often talk about brushing teeth and flossing to clean and protect the gums, but one oral tissue is consistently left out of the conversation: the tongue. Tongues are an important part of our digestive systems and reside in the mouth. They help us to eat and to speak and come into contact with the same amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth as our other oral tissues. If you wish to achieve oral wellness, you must never forget to take care of your tongue.
The tongue is a unique and comparatively strong muscle. It is comprised of eight striated muscles that enable it to move in any direction. The mucous membrane that covers these muscles aids in the production of saliva with serous glands, and contains tiny papillae – better known as tastebuds. These taste buds are tiny nerve receptors that can send messages to our brains which are translated into taste. The tongue allows us to correctly taste, chew, and swallow our food. It also enables us to make sounds and articulate speech. It is extremely important to the overall function of our mouths and it deserves to be considered while we are caring for our other oral tissues.
Disease and The Tongue
When talking about oral health we talk a lot about cavities and periodontal disease, but not so much about maladies that plague the tongue. As your Jacksonville, Florida dentist we happen to see a lot of them. Discoloration of the tongue can be a bit alarming for a patient. Discolored white, red, yellow, or black patches on the tongue can show up without warning or reason and it is important to see your dentist if any of these occur. They could be an indication of oral cancer or other serious conditions. However in most cases changes in the color of the tongue can be harmless albeit concerning. Oral thrush is a common tongue condition in young children and those who have fragile immune systems. Thrush is caused by an accumulation of the fungus candidiasis in the mouth and can be treated fairly easily. If you experience any changes in your tongue from discoloration to swollenness or pain it is important to schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your Jacksonville, Florida dentist.
Taking Care of Your Tongue
We all know that the mouth is full of bacteria, some good and some bad. We do our best to remove these bacteria from our teeth and gums, but if they are allowed to remain on our tongues are we really doing a great job at protecting our mouths from oral disease? It is just as important to remove this bacteria from our tongues as it is from our teeth and gums and by doing so you may only add one or two more minutes to your oral routine. There are two common ways to do this, brushing and scraping. Choosing which one is a personal choice and each is as effective at removing harmful bacteria from the mouth. Brushing your tongue is simple and can be done after your two minutes of tooth brushing. Gently brush your tongue back and forth then side to side then rinse. Make sure you use very little pressure because the mucus membrane that covers your tongue is very sensitive and can be damaged easily. By brushing your tongue you are removing harmful bacteria and freshening your breath all at the same time. Scraping your tongue is just as effective. To do this you will need to purchase a tongue scraper – these can be metal or plastic and are found in the toothbrush aisle. Simply place the scraper on the back of your tongue and drag it to the front of your tongue. After this spit the saliva into the sink and continue to brush your teeth for two minutes and floss afterwards. Because both are as effective at removing bacteria that causes cavities, gum disease and bad breath, it’s up to you to choose which fits your lifestyle best.
Taking care of your whole mouth is an important step in maintaining impeccable oral health and total body wellness. If you have questions about cleaning or caring for your tongue, don’t hesitate to ask your Jacksonville, Florida dentist today!