Of the popular practices that have come and gone, tongue cleaning is probably one of the most lasting. And it’s got science to back it up. A study by Seemann, Kison, Bizhang, and Zimmer for the Journal of the American Dental Association notes that tongue cleaning using a tongue cleaner or scraper effectively reduces bad breath. This reduction is more than a toothbrush can. But despite its effectiveness, do you need a tongue cleaner for your baby?
For the most part, babies don’t need fancy implements for their oral health. They lack the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay. Instead, they receive the bacteria from their parents during saliva transfer. A baby’s mouth is also quite sensitive. It’s questionable if the use of a tongue cleaner does more good than harm to their budding oral health.
That said, do you need a tongue cleaner for your baby? Let’s find out.
Why should you clean your tongue?
Contrary to popular belief, tongue cleaning isn’t new. If you’re familiar with Ayurveda or traditional Indian medicine, you might already be familiar with it. According to these practices, tongue cleaning or scraping not only improves your oral hygiene but also benefits your overall health. Both Ayurveda and science recognize the mouth as the entry to digestion. Both then put a premium on taking care of it.
Scientifically, the efficacy of tongue cleaning or scraping for chronic bad breath may need more research. This added research is to establish the relationship between the two. But this doesn’t go to say that it’s without benefit altogether. Bacteria can accumulate on the tongue over time, leading to an unsightly tongue and bad breath. A tongue cleaning practice is then highly encouraged, particularly when you brush your teeth.
While you can clean your tongue with a toothbrush (some toothbrushes also come with a built-in tongue cleaner), some have recommended the use of a separate tongue cleaner. This recommendation is so you can thoroughly scrape off the bacteria, as proposed by the study by Seemann et al.
That being said, do tongue cleaners carry the same level of necessity for babies as they do adults?
Do I need a tongue cleaner for my baby?
Indeed, baby mouths may be cleaner than your average adult, but they can get the same problems if not tended to properly. Without regular cleaning, food particles and bacteria may accumulate along your baby’s tongue and teeth. When this does happen, your baby may be at risk of a slew of infections. This risk increases once they grow their teeth out. But even without the first set of teeth, your child can still harbor oral ailments, such as oral thrush.
The typical oral hygiene routine for babies requires very little. Cleaning mostly requires a soft gauze or cloth and some water. The use of fluoride at this stage may be beyond your child’s needs. And because they don’t have teeth, a toothbrush might not be necessary. In terms of tongue cleaning, however, there are baby-safe tongue cleaners available on the market. These tongue cleaners are for parents who want to be more thorough when it comes to cleaning their baby’s tongue.
But is a tongue cleaner necessary for your baby? Not really. Typically this is done the same time as their gum cleaning. You can clean their tongues the way you clean the rest of their mouths. Just be sure you don’t accidentally activate their gag reflex in the process.