Although it may seem that oral health is all about the teeth, there is a lot more involved. One of the key factors to maintaining a healthy environment in your mouth is the condition of your tongue. As you read on, your La Porte dentist explains 5 facts about this part of your anatomy, its importance in preventing oral maladies and ways you can clean it.
The Average Size of the Tongue
The tongue consists of two parts: the anterior (front) and posterior (back). The anterior takes up roughly two-thirds of the tongue and is visible when you open your mouth. The posterior is located toward your throat.
The point here is that your tongue spans the length of your oral cavity. Thus, it naturally plays a big role in your dental health. If it isn’t clean, then it has the potential to spread bacteria throughout the rest of your mouth.
Your Tongue – A Tool of Digestion and Cleaning
When you chew food, the tongue aids in digestion by moving the partially dissolved particles toward the throat for swallowing. The tip (apex) of the tongue is able to move independent of the frenulum (the part that’s attached to the floor of the mouth), so it can help to clean debris from the upper parts of your oral cavity.
For these attributes to be realized, though, requires that the tongue be clean itself.
Thousands of Taste Buds
Another attribute of your tongue is that it has 3,000 to 10,000 taste buds (papillae) that line it. They house the taste receptors, which allow you to enjoy a multitude of flavors.
It’s important to keep the tongue clean, though, because bacteria can get trapped between the papillae and contribute to oral health issues and bad breath.
Bacteria Nests on the Tongue
Unfortunately, the tongue can grow bacteria nests. Over time, these make you more susceptible to gum disease, tooth decay and a host of other problems. Furthermore, they hinder the tongue’s natural defense mechanisms that protect your body from invading germs.
A Dental Visit is for More Than Teeth
One of the main ways to protect the health of your tongue is by visiting your dentist in La Porte semi-annually for cleanings and checkups. Keep in mind that these appointments are not just to monitor the condition of your teeth. Your dentist will also examine your tongue to make sure it is as healthy as it can be.
Tips for a Healthier Tongue
Here’s what you can do to protect your tongue:
- Run Your Toothbrush Across – After you’ve finished brushing your teeth, don’t forget to gently run your toothbrush over your tongue to remove any excess debris.
- Use a Tongue Scraper – The scraper is designed specifically to clean the surface of your tongue. Using a gliding motion, move it from the back to the front. It helps to unseat bacteria and food particles that may be hiding between the papillae.
- Rinse with Mouthwash – A final way to aid in the health of your tongue and your entire mouth is to rinse with mouthwash after a meal or brushing. This provides extra fortification against intruders.
Now that you know how vital your tongue is to your oral health, be sure to dedicate more time to its maintenance. To go further in your quest, reach out to your local dentist to schedule a preventive care appointment today.
About the Author
Dr. Daniel Berquist earned his DDS degree from Indiana University’s Dental School and has since gone on to take a tedious approach to practicing dentistry. He loves interacting with his patients and provides them with compassionate and gentle care at Region Dental. Dr. Berquist can be reached for more information through his website.