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Am I supposed to brush my tongue?

Because foul odors originate from bacteria, an unclean tongue is a major source of bad breath, or halitosis.

The surface of the tongue is covered with many little tissue projections called papillae.  Papillae serve a variety of functions such as detecting taste.  Unfortunately, they also provide protection for bacterial colonies. Because foul odors originate from bacteria, an unclean tongue is a major source of bad breath, or halitosis.

Germs that cause gum disease, gingivitis, and tooth decay live in groups. A problem often caused by bacterial colonization is the production of foul odors. However, these bacteria can be much less destructive when their colonies, are mechanically broken up with a toothbrush.

Probably the most effective time for brushing and/or scraping the tongue for the management of halitosis is when brushing the teeth in the morning. Brushing the tongue is also an effective way to handle halitosis. It also reduces overall amount of germs in the mouth to help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.

Some dentists also advocate scraping the tongue routinely with special tools as treatment for halitosis.

Some general tips:

  • Tilt the brush at a 45 degree angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from gumline.
  • Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes.
  • Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.

You can visit animated-teeth for more information on brushing your tongue.

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One of the most common questions from my patients is how they can whiten their teeth and brighten their smile due to the staining from foods and beverages.  I often tell my patients who are not sure which foods and beverages could stain their teeth to go by this rule of thumb: If it stains your carpet, it can stain your teeth!

Our teeth are composed of enamel and acts as a protective barrier that prevents cavities and tooth decay and also give your teeth their white color.

Certain foods and beverages we eat and drink everyday can break down Cola file000808937903the enamel in our teeth and cause stains.  Microscopic ridges on each tooth can catch residue from these beverages, and can cause discoloration.  The discoloration can be caused by artificial food colorings and the acidity levels in beverages like in coffee, tea and cola.  These beverages can discolor your teeth due to their darkly colored pigments.

Colas also contains high levels of acidity and they can actually break down the enamel in your teeth. Several processed foods that we eat can also cause staining due to the food coloring in these products.  This includes fruit juices, popsicles and even tomato sauce.  For more examples of foods that can stain your teeth.

Maintaining your regular brushing and flossing is the best way to eliminate discoloration and keep your smile bright.

For those with stained teeth that brushing alone will not get white enough, another great option is teeth whitening. Talk with your dentist for more information on wether whitening is right for you.

For more tips on how to maintain proper oral hygiene, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ &  Twitter!