It’s tough getting kids to brush their teeth, but there is another challenge that parents face when teaching children about the importance of tongue cleaning. Tongue cleaning is a vital component to maintaining excellent oral health in children! A clean tongue is part of good hygiene. Particles of everything we consume end up in the tongue’s nooks and crannies. Just think of how it looks after a grape drink! Bacteria form quickly, accelerating tooth decay, causing bad breath, and even creating or worsening stomach ailments.
Kids should brush their tongue vigorously each day with a cleaning tool, such as a tongue brush or scraper. The process of keeping a tongue clean includes the following:
- With a tongue brush: Brush actively and as far back on the tongue as possible, pressing down firmly. Rinse thoroughly, then clean the brush with hot water and store it upright, so moisture drains away.
- With a scraper: Start with the device as far back on the tongue as possible, then bring it forward while pressing down, pulling forward particles and bacteria-containing film. Repeat two or three times, rinse thoroughly, then clean the scraper with hot water. Store it in an upright position.
But how do we get our kids to clean their tongues? Here are a few tips:
- Make sure your children know that a dirty tongue is a leading cause of bad breath. Kids don’t want bad breath, and tongue brushing or scraping is an excellent way to prevent it.
- Make tongue cleaning part of their teeth brushing routine.
- Let them know a dirty tongue can lead to cavities, which might mean an extra trip to the dentist.
- Let them see you do it! You can make a big impact by showing them you clean your tongue regularly, too.
Tongue cleaning often triggers the gag reflex in people of all ages. Some ways to help your kids from gagging includes:
- Minimize gagging by teaching them to stick the tongue out as far as possible while cleaning.
- Let them see gagging is normal by showing that it happens to you when you clean your tongue, too.
- Make a game of it! “How far back can you go?” Encourage them and applaud their efforts.
Every child needs guidance and supervision to stay in good dental health. It’s important to make tongue cleaning a regular part of your dental hygiene expectations.