I'm a dentist and this is the big mistake you're probably making when brushing your teeth
BRUSHING your teeth twice a day is part of all of our routines, but one expert has revealed there is one big mistake you could be making.
Good oral hygiene is key to a happy healthy smile and keeps bacteria from building up in your mouth.
Dental professional Dr Sameet Hindocha from oral hygiene company MyMouth, says in order to prevent nasty bacteria – you should also be scraping your tongue.
This he says, is so you can prevent gum disease developing.
Gum disease is an incredibly common oral disease and around 45-50 per cent of all adults in the UK suffer with the condition.
The biggest cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene and not brushing your teeth properly, but bacteria can also live on your tongue, Dr Hindocha says.
He explained: "If you are susceptible to it, you need to brush better than the average person to ensure the plaque bacteria levels in your mouth remain as low as possible.
"As some of the bacteria that contribute to gum disease also live on your tongue, it is important to include this as part of your home routine.
"By cleaning your tongue, alongside regular brushing, you can remove potentially harmful bacteria to reduce your chances of developing gum disease."
Here he explains the seven other ways scraping your tongue can help play a role is keeping your mouth fresh.
1. Banish bad breath
Dr Hindocha said that 80-90 per cent of bad breath (otherwise known as halitosis) originates in the mouth and studies have even shown that it has a negative impact on our relationships and quality of life.
He explained: "There are many contributing factors to bad breath including smoking, medication, certain foods, and the build-up of bacteria around our gums, teeth and tongue.
"In just over 50 per cent of cases, the most common cause of bad breath is a white or yellow coating on your tongue. When bacteria, food, and dead cells accumulate between the crypts of your tongue, your breath will suffer as a result.
"When plaque builds up on the tongue you will notice a white or yellow coating which should be removed on a daily basis. Bacteria stagnate on the tongue releases ‘volatile sulphur compounds’ which results in bad smells like rotten eggs!"
Bad breath is another key sign of gum disease and smoking also ups your risk of this.
During the pandemic more than half a million young people started smoking during lockdown, while 4.5million people developed drinking problems as reported by researchers from University College London (UCL).
Boozing leads to dehydration which slows saliva production and can increase bad bacteria.
Dr Hindocha said that introducing a tongue cleaner can help promote fresher, cleaner breath.
"As well as drinking more water, tongue cleaning is the simplest way of reducing bad breath and reduces those horrible smells!"
2. Improve your sense of taste
Your tongue is covered in thousands of tiny tastebuds, each one responsible for helping you to enjoy the taste of your favourite foods.
Cleaning your tongue can free up these tastebuds of clogged up debris and bacteria, which works towards improving the overall flavour of food and drink, Dr Hindocha says.
3. Remove stains
We all want a bright white smile and Dr Hindocha said that using a tongue brush could help with that.
He said: "Smoking and drinking lots of tea and coffee results in yellow or brown discolouration of the tongue.
"This staining or coating can be difficult to remove without cleaning your tongue. Of course, reducing how much tea and coffee you have and stopping smoking will also help!"
4. Prevents cavities
Dental decay is often caused by Streptococci and Lactobacilli bacteria in the mouth, leading to cavities.
While brushing your teeth twice daily works well towards reducing your chance of developing cavities, Dr Hindocha said that combining this with tongue scraping could lower your chances of getting a cavity as it reduces the levels of bacteria in your mouth.
5. Reduce harmful bacteria
We all know we have to brush our teeth twice a day for two minutes in order to reduce plaque.
Flossing can also help, and Dr Hindocha said that some studies have shown that regular tongue cleaning can work towards reducing your overall plaque levels by preventing the accumulation of disease-causing bacteria.
"Reducing the levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth will help to promote a positive oral health and help prevent diseases like gum disease", he added.
6. Prevents bad digestion
Dr Hindocha saud that Ancient Ayurvedic Indian medicine and traditional Chinese medicine believe that the toxins on your tongue from bacteria, effect the health of your gut, which is not surprising because your digestion starts with your tongue and saliva.
He explained: "Our saliva aids the digestive process by kickstarting the chemical breakdown of food. But did you know that the tongue can harbour bacteria and toxins that can compromise your digestion?
"By cleaning your tongue with a tongue scraper, you can stimulate the production of saliva, as well as removing toxins on your tongue."
7. Boosts confidence
Around 96 per cent of people think that a smile is crucial to how attractive someone is and Dr Hindocha said taking care of your mouth and oral hygiene can be an easy confidence boost.
"By regularly cleaning your tongue, you can ensure your mouth looks and feels fresh and clean, so you can smile and laugh with complete confidence, and even stick your tongue out for a few cheeky pictures", he said.
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