It is not just your teeth that you need to worry about in your mouth. Your tongue, if not cared for, can harbour bacteria and cause bad breath.
Information about the Tongue:
Your tongue is a muscle in the mouth which performs a number of functions. It has a rough texture, which is because it has hundreds of tiny bumps called papillae. Thousands of taste buds cover the surfaces of these papillae, the taste buds are in turn connected to the brain via nerves, to pass on tastes from the tongue. The tongue is attached to the mouth with soft tissues and the tether holding down the front of the tongue is called the frenum. The tongue is needed for chewing, swallowing and tasting food, and is used for speech.
The four most dominant tastes are Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Salty. Often you will hear of a taste map of the tongue, which suggests that certain tastes are detected on certain parts of the tongue, but this has been found to be un-true and it is now accepted that we can taste everything on all surfaces of the tongue. There has also recently been a 5th flavour discovered, called Umami, which means “Savoury” in Japanese and can be detected/tasted in a lot of Asian foods.
Caring for your Tongue:
Due to the texture and moist nature of the tongue, it can harbour lots of bacteria. These germs can lead to bad breath, affect your sense of taste. Overgrowth of bacteria can turn your tongue yellow, white or even black and hairy-looking.
You should make sure that you take care of your tongue, by cleaning it thoroughly every tine you clean your teeth. You can brush it gently with your tooth brush, or here at Parrock Street Dental we sell Tongue scrapers, which can be used to remove any build up on the tongue leaving it clean and fresh. Another good way to keep your tongue clean and fresh is to use mouth wash after eating to help reduce bacteria and keep your mouth fresh.
Finally, avoid tongue piercings. Any piercing carries a risk of infection, but due to the nature, and amount of bacteria already in your mouth, tongue piercings are extremely prone to infection. The piercing itself can cause damage and chips to the teeth and can risk cracking the teeth. If you do wish to have this done then make sure you take extra care to keep your tongue and mouth clean.