How to Clean Your Tongue and Why You Should: The X Technique

Just like your skin, which contains quantities of shed surface cells and bacteria, your tongue is a harbor for bacteria, epithelial cells, dead white blood cells and decomposing food particles. This debris gives bacteria the necessary nutrition to grow in large quantities.

Bacteria on the tongue will produce a colored coating which can be white, yellow, or black, and contributes to mouth odors or halitosis. Tongue bacteria also seeds bacteria on teeth which will result in periodontal disease and cavities.

Bacteria on the skin produces odorous substances which are readily washed away by bathing or showering since the skin is relatively smooth.

Unlike the skin which is relatively smooth and more easily washable, the tongue is a jungle of cracks and crevices where bacteria grow unimpeded and is not easily washable. When bacteria on the tongue thrives, dental disease as well as halitosis thrives as well. Cleaning your tongue should be an important part of your daily oral hygiene routine to control dental disease and unpleasant halitosis.

The back part of the tongue is where most bacteria that cause halitosis grow. Cleaning the back of the tongue plays an important role in reducing bacterial quantities.

Using an ingenious method called the X technique a recent two-week long study found that using a toothbrush which is passed from the back to the front of the tongue in a cross pattern six times resulted in a significant reduction in bacterial growth and halitosis. The technique advises brushing the tongue from the back right to the front left. Then from the back left to the front right, then ending with the middle back to the middle front of the tongue.

The study also explored the relationship of halitosis and self-perception of halitosis. The findings revealed that people are generally poor evaluators of their own halitosis. Those who report halitosis do not always have it. Psychological factors may be present that control the ability of a patient to be self-objective. Every person has a perception of their own breath that can vary based on their psychological profile.

Home oral health care is an important part of preventing oral and dental disease as well as promoting satisfactory oral hygiene to assist in interpersonal relationships. Tongue bushing is an invaluable aid to maintaining good breath and preventing periodontal disease and cavities.