What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Tongue

What Happens When You Don't Brush Your Tongue

We all know that maintaining hygiene is very important for the body. Oral hygiene includes not only the teeth but also the tongue. The way it is advised to brush teeth twice daily, in the similar way, the tongue also needs to be cleaned every day. Most of the bacteria thrive on tongue and may cause health issues if not cleaned properly.

Medical issues such as halitosis, discoloration, bad breath and gum disease are some common outcomes that you can experience with an uncleaned tongue. Beside these, there are many more health conditions that may arise and this article will explain what happens when you don’t clean your tongue every day.

Why Should You Clean Your Tongue Every Day?

Cleaning tongue every day is very important due to different reasons. The benefits you gain from maintaining a daily tongue cleaning habit include the following-

  • Removes dead cells, debris, and bacteria that prevents bad breath, and keeps one away from diseases.
  • Helps in proper digestion and improves dental health.
  • Improves the sense of taste and helps to easily identify the taste of your food and enjoy it better.
  • Improves overall appearance of the tongue and mouth. The tongue is visible while you talk, and a clean tongue gives a better look.
  • Controls dental decay and improves oral hygiene.

Effects of Not Cleaning Tongue Regularly

While cleaning tongue every day offers multiple benefits, there are various harmful effects of not cleaning it regularly. Some of these are-

  • Halitosis: Commonly known as bad breath, this is a condition in which the bacteria build up on the tongue (1). This makes the person have a foul mouth smell that affects the presence and confidence negatively.
  • Tongue discolouration: An unclean tongue may result in blackening of the tongue that creates a bad impression while talking and eating.
  • Gum disease: A person may experience gum disease, gum swelling, redness, and bleeding if infected with gum disease due to an unclean tongue (2).
  • Yeast infection: When the bacteria level is high in the mouth, there are chances of oral thrust due to yeast infection. This forms white patches on the tongue and needs antifungal medicines to treat them.
  • Tooth loss: If the tongue is not cleaned properly, there are chances of gum weakening. This may result in bacterial infection and eventually tooth loss.
  • Dull taste buds: A person may lose the sense of taste due to an unclean tongue as debris and dead cells accumulate over taste buds (3).
  • Periodontal diseases: An unclean tongue supports bacterial growth. It may spread to teeth, causing gingivitis and other advanced periodontal diseases. It may also result in chronic inflammation and increased space between the teeth. Periodontal diseases increase the chances of heart attack, miscarriages, and strokes.

How to Clean Teeth Correctly

There are various ways in which tongue can be cleaned like tongue scraping or tongue brushing.

Tongue Scraping

Tongue Scraping

Get a tongue scraper from a pharmacy. Use it to scrap off the bacteria, food particles and other debris stuck on your tongue in an outward direction. Rinse your mouth using warm water (4).

Tongue Brushing

Tongue brushing

This is an easy way to clean the tongue. All you need is an old toothbrush for proper tongue scraping. Wet the bristles of your toothbrush with warm water and gently clean the tongue using front and back strokes (5). You can do it every time you brush your teeth.

Be careful so as not to cause any injury to the tongue. Also, keep in mind, not to hit teeth or gums. Once you are done, rinse your mouth with warm water.

Tips for an Effective Tongue Cleaning

To ensure an effective cleaning, take care of the following points-

  • Stick your tongue out as much as you can. Start from the back and then move forward.
  • Use a soft tooth brush and moisten it before using.
  • Cleaning the tongue on an empty stomach will prevent gaging while cleaning.
  • Cleaning the tongue regularly will help you to adjust to the feel while cleaning.
  • You may try cleaning the tongue with a dental floss if neither toothbrush nor tongue scraper suits you.


Cleaning the tongue regularly will help to avoid many dental concerns and promote good dental hygiene. An unclean tongue can cause many issues like bad breath, tooth loss, periodontal diseases, etc. a regular practice to clean the tongue by either scraping or brushing will go a long way in controlling such issues.

However, if you observe issues with your tongue, ensure that you visit a dentist. They are going to check the symptoms, evaluate and advise if frequent cleaning or treatment is required to clean the tongue.

Image Source : freepik

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