What color is a healthy tongue

Tongue coating

It is best to remove the tongue plaque regularly once a day. This is especially true if you frequently consume luxury foods such as coffee, tea and alcohol, have to take certain medications or are a smoker. Your taste perception will also improve significantly afterwards, because the papillae are free of food residues, dead cells and bacteria. There are various methods of how to get rid of the tongue coating or how to prevent it from growing in the first place.

General measures that help to permanently remove the tongue coating are:

  • Good oral hygiene, good dental care: regular tooth brushing and the use of space brushes and dental floss are also ways to get rid of the plaque on the tongue. In this way you also effectively prevent tooth and gum disease.
  • Cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush: If you don't have any other tools at hand, work the tongue carefully with a soft toothbrush to remove the deposits. But don't use the same toothbrush that you normally use to brush your teeth, or you'll just spread the bacteria around.
  • Eat a healthy diet with a lot of fiber, which "cleans" the tongue by ensuring sufficient mechanical abrasion.
  • You can also clean your tongue if you chew the food well and don't just gulp it down quickly.
  • Do not eat exclusively soft, mushy and liquid foods. Otherwise the abrasion that can clean the tongue is missing. Eat hard foods as often as possible, for example cereals and whole grains, crunchy fruits and vegetables. They contain a lot of fiber, which is also very healthy. Chew these foods well and do not swallow the food quickly. Chewing and eating hard foods cause mechanical abrasion on the tongue, which also makes bacteria and annoying deposits disappear.
  • Drink enough during the day. We recommend 1.5 to two liters a day - on hot days it can be more. The liquid washes away bacteria and food residues and ensures that they do not settle on the tongue.
  • A fungal infection with the yeast Candida (oral thrush) can be treated with antifungal agents, so-called antimycotics. They are a good medication against tongue plaque.
  • You can also get treatment for other diseases that are associated with plaque on the tongue. These include gastrointestinal diseases such as gastric mucosal inflammation, liver diseases or kidney weakness. Adequate treatment of the underlying disease is a good remedy for a coated tongue.

There is no approved drug against tongue plaque that specifically removes it. You have to start with the cause of the tongue coating, for example the underlying disease or your consumption of luxury foods.

Tongue scraper

There are various tools and means for covering the tongue and cleaning the tongue. You can remove the coating on the tongue with a special tongue brush, a tongue scraper (tongue scraper) or a combination of both items. Dentists recommend removing the tongue coatings daily. This measure not only protects against a visually unsightly colored tongue, but also against unpleasant bad breath and gum problems.

Tongue scrapers come in different shapes and materials: copper or stainless steel, plastic and silver. Some removers are curved like a wet razor, while others are like a flat, flexible stick. The devices are designed so that you can carefully remove the plaque without injuring your tongue.

  • Place the scraper far back on the back of the tongue - this is where most of the bacteria are - and then slowly pull it forward. Tongue scrapers are less likely to cause gagging than when you use a toothbrush near your palate.
  • If you don't have a suitable tool at hand, you can also use an aid from the cutlery box: You can clean the tongue with a spoon that is clean and should not have any sharp edges.
  • The tongue brush has small bristle heads like a toothbrush. However, you need to replace them regularly.
  • In combined devices, a tongue scraper is attached to the back of the tongue brush.

Tongue cleaners made of copper, stainless steel or silver have a number of advantages: They are hygienic, easy to clean and have a long shelf life. Plastic tongue scrapers, on the other hand, break faster.

Cleanse the tongue: home remedies

The key to tongue cleaning is good oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth regularly (twice a day) and using an interdental brush or floss once a day. There are also some home remedies that you can use to remove plaque on the tongue.

Home remedies for cleaning the tongue include:

  • Salt is considered an effective home remedy for a coated tongue. Make a mouthwash for the tongue coating by dissolving a teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water. Rinse your mouth with the solution and swirl the salt water back and forth. Warning: do not swallow the salty solution! You can also put the salt directly on the tongue and gently massage and “peel” (rub off) it with a soft toothbrush. Then rinse your mouth well with water to remove the salt residue.
  • Baking soda neutralizes the acids in the mouth. Dissolve half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of lukewarm water and rinse your mouth with the mixture. Spit out the solution and rinse with clean water afterwards.
  • Home remedies such as chamomile flowers, thyme, sage or myrrh are also good for a coated tongue. Put a few drops of the herbal extract directly on the tongue or make a mouthwash out of it. The herbal ingredients have antibacterial properties and kill germs. This will reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth and thus also the coating on the tongue.
  • Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes healing processes. Put a little aloe vera juice in your mouth and rinse the mouth well for a few minutes. Then spit out the juice.
  • Oil, such as olive oil, works against tongue plaque by killing bacteria. Put a little of it in your mouth and pull the oil through your mouth for about ten minutes. In this way you clean the spaces between the teeth, tongue and the entire mouth. Then spit out the oil and rinse your mouth with water. Oil pulling helps against bad breath, plaque on the tongue and plaque on teeth.

Professional tongue cleaning

Many dentists today offer professional tongue cleaning. They use special tongue suction devices or ultrasound devices. The procedure only takes a few minutes and is an alternative if you don't want to resort to tongue scrapers, tongue brushes, tablespoons or home remedies yourself. This is how tongue cleaning works at the dentist:

  • The vibrations of the ultrasound device remove bacteria that have settled on the tongue. The ultrasound also reaches places that normal tongue cleaning methods cannot reach.
  • The tongue suction device has a lamellar side for suction and a side with knobs for massaging in a cleaning gel.

Dentists recommend repeating professional tongue cleaning every three months. The statutory health insurances do not cover the costs for tongue cleaning. They are around 40 euros.

It has not yet been scientifically proven that removing the tongue coating on a daily basis actually has a preventive effect. However, there is a positive effect on oral health. Patients with bad breath appear to benefit in particular.