The importance of cleaning the tongue to prevent oral diseases

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Dr. Natália Morales is a specialist in Endodontics, Implantology, Dental Prosthesis and 3d Dentistry and has been dedicated for 14 years to caring for patients with odontophobia. Reference in humanized care.

Do you know how to clean your tongue correctly? There are many methods, but which one is right? To clear all your doubts about this, we prepared this post explaining why brushing your tongue is important and what are the dangers of not cleaning your tongue. Come with us!

The importance of cleaning the tongue to prevent oral diseases

Why is brushing your tongue important?

The tongue is a very important structure in our mouth, as it is part of eating and speaking. As all food passes through it, there is a natural propensity for waste to accumulate there, along with natural mucus, dead cells, etc. Tongue dirt is called saburra and causes that off-white color.

Did you know that your taste buds also depend on your tongue? So it is. The taste buds are on it, so the tongue needs to be clean to keep the taste buds free. In addition, keeping your tongue clean also fights bad breath and the accumulation of plaque-causing bacteria, preventing diseases such as cavities and periodontitis, for example.

What happens if you don't clean your tongue?

If you don't clean your tongue properly, you'll get a buildup of bacteria in your mouth. Your tongue will turn white, and may progress to yellow, green and other darker tones. Halitosis is the great villain for those who do not sanitize their tongue. Bad breath can cause many embarrassments and social problems.

In addition, these bacteria will make you more susceptible to oral diseases, plaque and tartar. If you already face a problem, such as cavities or gingivitis, the dirty tongue will exacerbate the situation. In addition, you will stop enjoying your favorite foods, after all, your taste can be affected.

How to clean the tongue correctly?

One of the ways to avoid several tongue problems is to clean it correctly. Even if you brush your teeth three times a day, you may still have to deal with bad breath and other mouth problems that can cause your tongue to burn. For this, see tongue brushing techniques!

Tongue brushing techniques

After brushing your teeth, it's time to focus on your tongue. This can be done with the same brush you use for your teeth or with one that has a tongue cleaner built into the back.

This is important, as on the tongue there are particles and bacteria that are attached to the top layer. To remove it, you need to use a small amount of toothpaste and gently brush the top of your tongue.

The ideal is to start at the back and then move forward, from the tongue, close to the opening of the mouth. This is done with light pressure. After that, rinse your mouth with water until all the toothpaste is gone.

After use, it is also necessary to wash the tongue cleaner using hot water. To clean, use the right pressure in brushing to avoid bleeding or pain after cleaning. If this happens, know that you are using too much force.

The center of the tongue is where the biggest focus of bacteria that causes bad smell is, so focus on that when you go to work.

Keep your toothbrush always new and clean, changing it every three months at the most. If, before that, she has frayed bristles or visible wear, the ideal is to change it immediately, because when they become worn out or misaligned, the cleaning process is reduced, which can lead to poor oral hygiene.

How often should I clean my tongue?

Tongue cleaning should be frequent. The minimum necessary is twice a day, once in the morning, when brushing, and once at night, before going to sleep.

After cleaning the tongue, mouthwash can be used to finish sanitizing and eliminate bacteria. Also, pay attention to your tongue throughout the day, this care goes beyond brushing, the habit will help you keep your breath fresh at all times. Remembering that periodic consultation with the dentist and dental check up is also important to check and maintain the health of teeth and mouth. This will avoid more serious problems in the region.

In addition, it is necessary to consider that the sensation of burning tongue is not provoked by only one reason. We have seen that it is possible to go through this when there are conditions such as dry mouth, nutritional deficiencies, medication use, chemo or radiotherapy treatment, geographic tongue, fissured and tongue diseases. Inflammations such as transient lingual papillitis can also generate this symptom.

Another habit that leads to this is consuming too many acidic or spicy foods, lack of hygiene and irritation in the mouth. To deal with these issues, actions such as drinking more water, avoiding acidic and spicy foods, eating a balanced diet to ensure nutritional balance, cleaning your mouth correctly and seeking help from a dentist are great options for dealing with the problem.

Tongue scraper worth it?

The tongue scraper is useful but not essential. If you want to scrape your tongue with a specific device for this, that's fine, just use it the same way you would use a toothbrush: from back to front, applying just a little pressure.

How often should I clean my tongue?

The indication is to clean the tongue at least twice a day. If you can, clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth, i.e. after resting every meal.

Is there a way to clean the tongue naturally?

There are two factors that can help with the natural cleaning of your tongue: water intake and specific food. A diet rich in sweets, for example, will stimulate the growth of bacteria, while foods like carrots, apples and cucumbers, when eaten raw, help with oral hygiene.

Orange stimulates the salivary glands, while mint, for example, helps with digestion and leaves breath fresh. Drinking plenty of water maintains healthy saliva production, while also helping to clean your tongue and mouth as a whole. In addition, good oral hygiene habits are essential.

Can you scrape your tongue with a spoon?

Maybe yes. You will place the clean spoon facing down on the back of the tongue and “pull” the white part of the tongue towards the tip. Repeat the process until you realize that the excess has come off, always using pressure so as not to cause any trauma to your tongue. After that, rinse your mouth with water.

What to do to remove the white from the tongue?

Use of dental floss and good toothpaste, proper brushing and knowing how to clean your tongue are the essential steps to eliminate that whitish appearance and keep your oral health up to date. Here, we only have one point of attention: if the problem persists, it is important to investigate the causes and carry out the appropriate treatment.

Don't forget to visit the dentist regularly.

The dentist should be sought when symptoms do not disappear for more than 3 to 7 days, so that optimal treatment is recommended. If it is an infection or inflammation, it is necessary to use specific medications. Also, it's important to follow up with the dentist to keep the oral health of your teeth up to date!

To avoid the burning sensation of the tongue, proper hygiene is essential. As we show in this article, this must be done at least twice a day, at the time of brushing, in the morning and at night. Cleaning can be performed with a toothbrush with soft bristles or a tongue cleaner.

Burning tongue, what could it be?

Burning tongue can have different causes and, for this reason, it is not a difficult symptom to find. This sensation can be caused by dry mouth, nutritional deficiencies, irritations in the mouth, side effects caused by medications, eating very hot food or oral problems. Check out the details on each one!

Dry mouth

Dry mouth happens when saliva production is not enough to keep it moist. The correct name for this is xerostomia, which causes a feeling of stickiness and dryness, which can cause the tongue to burn. This oral problem can be generated by factors such as:

  • use of some types of medication;
  • diseases that affect the salivary glands;
  • changes in hormones.

Burning and pain usually arise when dryness is chronic. The medical recommendation may be to keep your mouth wetter, consuming more water and chewing sugar-free gum.

nutritional deficiencies

Another common cause of burning tongue is nutritional deficiencies. For example, B vitamins or minerals such as zinc and iron, which can affect oral health. To avoid this, it is necessary to maintain a balanced diet, consuming greens, fruits, grains, legumes and protein sources.

Remembering that, before resorting to supplements, it is necessary to talk to the doctor in charge.

mouth irritations

Some actions can irritate the mouth and cause a burning sensation on the tongue. Like some drinks, excessive brushing or mouthwash. These hygiene habits, if done the wrong way, can cause the feeling of pain and burning in the tongue.

medication effects

Tongue burning can also appear as a result of medication side effects. These remedies can be the cause of glossodynia, causing dry mouth.

Therefore, it is important to advise the dentist about the use of medicine, so that he can check if this is the reason for the symptom.

Radiotherapy or chemotherapy

The side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy can be uncomfortable throughout the body, including the mouth. This cancer treatment can cause sores in the area or a burning sensation on the tongue.

For those undergoing cancer treatment, it is also important to take special care of oral health, following up with the dentist in order to avoid infections.

oral problems

Some oral problems can cause a burning tongue, such as:

  • oral thrush (fungal infection);
  • geographic language;
  • allergies;
  • nerve damage.

When the problem lasts for more than a week, it is necessary to take measures to identify the real cause of the problem. Going to the dentist is one way out, as the dentist will be able to identify whether this sensation is being caused by a more serious oral disease and indicate the correct treatment.

Consuming acidic, spicy, or hot drinks or foods

This is one of the main reasons for the burning. It is very common to burn your tongue with hot drinks or eating something very spicy. This happens because when the very high temperature hits the mouth tissue, it can cause a burn on the cheek, lips, gum and tongue.

In the case of acidic and spicy foods, they can also cause a burning sensation on the tongue for a while, but it usually passes quickly. This burning sensation may also be accompanied by loss of sensitivity and discomfort for a few days.

transient lingual papillitis

This condition is characterized by the appearance of bumps that leave the tongue white or with red dots. They reach the papillae, structures that allow us to taste what we are eating. The most affected papillae are the fungiform ones.

This inflammation can be caused by diets with a lot of spicy or acidic foods, trauma caused by tongue bites, injuries or allergies.

The good news is that it is possible to cure lingual papillitis in a few days, avoiding foods that irritate the mucosa, such as acidic and spicy foods and drinks.

fissured tongue

As with the geographic tongue, the fissure is responsible for changing the lingual texture. It usually appears in the first years of life. It is characterized by the appearance of fissures and grooves, present on the back of the tongue.

Although it doesn't cause pain very often, discomfort and burning can happen in some people with this condition. Especially when hygiene is not done correctly.

Some furrows can be very deep, causing food to accumulate there. This leads to the development of colonies of microorganisms that can cause infections.

For this reason, cleaning the organ with a brush with soft bristles or a tongue scraper is indicated, not only for those with this condition, but for everyone. This is essential to remove the tongue coating, a whitish or yellowish layer that forms throughout the day.

How to relieve burning tongue?

The method used to relieve the burning tongue sensation depends on the cause of the problem. See below some possible interventions!

Increase water consumption

If it's due to dry mouth, it's because the salivary gland can't produce the amount of saliva to keep the mouth moist. To deal with this, increasing water consumption is essential. Another strategy is to chew sugarless gum.

Avoid acidic foods

When it is caused by hot foods, to deal with the burning sensation of the tongue for this reason, the ideal is to give preference to colder foods until the symptoms disappear.

At this time, one should also avoid consuming acidic and spicy foods. It is also necessary to maintain good oral hygiene. If the burn is large, it is necessary to consult a doctor.

In the case of burning tongue due to excessive brushing and mouthwash, it is necessary to reduce the intake of acidic foods, such as lemon juice, orange, kiwi, among others.

Eat a balanced diet

Another cause of burning tongue is the lack of vitamins, such as the B complex, which can cause inflammation in the lining of the mouth. To deal with this, the ideal is to have a balanced diet.

However, medical follow-up should also be done, such as exams, to check the amount of vitamins and hormones and check if supplementation is necessary.

Perform oral hygiene correctly

A burning tongue caused by yeast infection, candidiasis. This disease can be avoided by proper oral hygiene, which can be done at least twice a day. However, if it does not disappear within a week, it is necessary to consult the dentist to verify the need for antifungal medication to deal with the infection.

Turn to a professional

The symptom can also be caused by burning mouth syndrome. This disease is not common to find, but it causes a burning sensation in the lip, tongue and mouth areas. It can also cause change in taste and tingling.

One way to prevent this disease is to avoid excessive stress and anxiety, as these factors increase the risk of developing the syndrome. In that case, it's also important to consult the doctor to do the proper treatment with medicine.


Tongue cleaning is a simple practice, but it can bring great benefits to oral health. In addition to preventing bad breath, tongue cleaning can prevent a range of oral diseases, such as cavity and gingivitis.

It's important to remember that the tongue can accumulate bacteria and food debris, even in people who brush their teeth regularly. Therefore, including tongue cleaning in your oral hygiene routine is essential to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile.

At Odonto Liuzzi, our professionals are available to guide and take care of your oral health in an individualized and specialized way.

Schedule your appointment now and find out how we can help you have an even more beautiful and healthy smile!

Did you like our article? So enjoy your visit to the blog and read the article Cosmetic Dentistry: discover how to transform your smile

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