You may have noticed something new in your post-visit goodie bag in the past few years: a tongue scraper. Maybe you’ve been thinking, “Oh, in addition to brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, now my dentist wants me to scrape my tongue?”

Actually, yes. Yes we do.

When you wake up in the morning, your tongue feels coated with slime, and may have some white stringy stuff on it. This is from bacteria that your body has so nicely placed there while you sleep. When you brush and use mouthwash, you’re only removing some of that bacterium. The most common problem caused by these bacteria is halitosis, or bad breath. Now, sure, bad breath might be annoying, but that’s easily taken care of with a breath mint, right? Well, that’s just covering up the problem. Halitosis may be a symptom of more serious problems, like gum disease. All that brushing and flossing isn’t going to help if, as soon as you remove the bacteria from your teeth and gums, they’re put right back there by your very own tongue.

Furthermore, some research suggests that this same bacteria may not stay in your mouth; sometimes, it travels back into your throat and up into your sinuses, causing infections there.i And then there’s the quality of life issue: the more bacteria you have on your tongue, the less you’re able to taste food. The more you scrape, the more you “free up” your taste buds, and the better you’re able to enjoy your food.

Regular brushing, flossing and scraping along with keeping your regularly scheduled hygiene appointments with Dr. Dervin, will keep your breath fresh, your mouth bacteria free, and your smile bright and healthy.

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