Many people are unaware of the correlation between not brushing the tongue and bad breath- also known as halitosis. Brushing or using a tongue cleaner is beneficial in reducing VSC’s or Volatile Sulfur Compounds on the tongue. In one study, it was found that for a majority of the patients, the cause of halitosis was found to be tongue coating. Since most of the bacteria in the mouth is harbored on the tongue, removal of that bacteria is key to help reduce bad breath. The bacterial mass located at the back of the tongue is the main site at which odor producing compounds are found. For many patients it is difficult for them to reach very posterior on their tongues due to their gag reflex so many of them skip this process which adds to bad breath. Tongue cleaning has been claimed to reduce oral odor by decreasing the concentration of VSCs by between 20% and 70%. Many people are aware of their halitosis and many try to mask it with other aids such as mints, chewing gum and liquid drops. Their main concern should be trying to remove the odor at the source. Additional reasons that can cause halitosis in patients who have good oral hygiene can come from systemic diseases, periodontal disease which is an infection of gums and bone, dry mouth from medications, and age. For patients like this it is still recommended for them to clean their tongue because all of these factors combined can lead to chronic halitosis. In conclusion, it has been proven that mechanical removal of bacteria from the tongue has been shown to reduce mouth odor, and it is important to maintain a clean tongue to improve overall oral health.
Dr. Julie Pruneski is the dentist and owner of Whispering Pines Dental located at 690 Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain, Ohio. Dr. Pruneski is a current member of the American Dental Association, Ohio Dental Association, Lorain County Dental Society, Academy of General Dentistry and American Academy of Facial Esthetics. To reserve an appointment with Dr. Pruneski, call 440-282-2023. Check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whisperingpinesdental.