Why you need to care for your tongue when you have braces

Using floss between each tooth? Check! Brushing your teeth and around your brackets? Check! Removing bacteria on your tongue? Eh…maybe. Some individuals may skip this step in the dental routine, which causes bacteria to accumulate on the tongue. Here are some reasons why neglecting your tongue may be detrimental to your oral health during orthodontic treatment.

Beware of:

1. Halitosis

When you have braces, you’re already at a higher risk for bad breath since food can get trapped in your brackets, wires, or o-rings. However, without proper tongue hygiene, bacteria will gradually amass on the back of your tongue. The buildup of bacteria allows halitosis to form due to the bacteria’s production of sulfur compounds. If you are practicing excellent oral hygiene with braces (flossing, brushing, and rinsing with water), your tongue could be to blame for bad breath!

2. The spread of bacteria

If you have diligently brushed your teeth and cleaned your brackets, but neglected your tongue, that bacteria can spread throughout your mouth. Having braces already makes maintaining oral hygiene more of a challenge. Don’t make it harder for yourself! Removing bacteria from the tongue regularly keeps your entire mouth healthier.

3. Periodontal disease

Bacteria buildup on the tongue can contribute to the development or worsening of periodontal disease when it travels to the gums. Gum disease is a serious threat—but especially problematic during orthodontic treatment. It causes issues like swelling, inflammation, and bad breath, so keeping your periodontal disease under control, or ideally avoiding it altogether, is crucial for a safe orthodontic experience.

Lowering risks

In order to limit these hazardous possibilities, implement a simple tongue-cleaning step into your oral hygiene routine. After brushing your teeth, take an extra 30 seconds to brush your tongue—using your toothbrush or the tongue brush that is sometimes on the back of a toothbrush head. Starting from the back of your tongue to its tip is the most effective method. All you have to do is either brush side to side or back and forth, then rinse out your mouth. Simple, right?

To help out with the process a bit, you could also purchase a tongue scraper. It works to remove the mucus-based layer in which bacteria gather. Caution: don’t scrape too hard or be aggressive while scraping. This could cause a breakage in the tongue’s surface. You don’t want to start the morning off with a bloody tongue!

Bacteria is bound to seek housing in your mouth due to its amenities—darkness, warmth, and dampness. It’s time to put up the eviction notice and prevent bacteria from getting back in! When you have braces, brushing your teeth, alone, won’t get the job done. If you have any questions about oral hygiene with braces, contact us today!

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