5 Gross Consequences of Having a Dirty Tongue

Neglecting the daily brushing your tongue needs allows bacteria to spread throughout your mouth and cause serious oralhealth issues.

Here are the problems that can arise if you don’t brush your tongue, which ranges from nasty and embarrassing to potentially life-threatening.


Bad breath is the leading problem associated with not brushing the tongue. Otherwise known as halitosis, it occurs when bacteria on your tongue begin doing what an overgrowth of bacteria do everywhere—emit an unpleasant smell. These odor-causing bacteria usually thrive in the back of the tongue, which is why remembering to brush back there is of utmost importance if you want to have fresh breath.

Less Sharp Taste Buds

A sickening layer of bacteria, dead skin cells, and food particles called a biofilm can coat your taste buds when you don’t brush your tongue at least twice a day. In consequence (as if biofilm covering your tongue wasn’t hair-raising enough), your sense of taste becomes duller, and you won’t enjoy the rich flavors of your favorite meals as much as you used to. Fortunately, brushing your tongue can help remove the biofilm on your taste buds.

Black hairy tongue

Black hairy tongue is a condition that begins when leftover food or drink particles (such as soda, coffee, or other sugary and dark-colored beverages) accumulate and stain the papillae on the tongue. The lack of stimulation from a toothbrush can cause more buildup of the protein known as keratin, which is accountable for giving the tongue a dark and furry appearance. Once you start tongue brushing regularly, the condition should disappear.

Oral Thrush

Sometimes called a “yeast infection in the mouth” or oral candidiasis, this condition occurs when there is an overgrowth of the Candida species of fungus in the mouth or throat. Oral thrush manifests itself as white or yellowish bumps on the tongue and inner cheek area. An antifungal mouthwash can cure it, and daily tongue brushing should prevent it from returning.

Gum Disease

Bacteria buildup on the tongue can spread to the teeth and cause gingivitis—the earliest form of gum disease. In the absence of treatment, gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, which is when the gums pull away from teeth and the space in-between becomes infected. What’s even more alarming is the fact that chronic inflammation from periodontal disease can cause an increased risk of fatal heart attacks, strokes, and miscarriages.

You probably want to grab your toothbrush right now and give your tongue the much-needed scrubbing it needs. Here’s the right way to brush your tongue: start at the back of your tongue, brushing toward the front. After which, brush your tongue from side-to-side. Remember to be gentle. Using toothpaste will also help clean your tongue more effectively. Do it twice a day for a few minutes.

Maintain a Healthy Tongue by Going to the Dentist

Visiting your Chandler dentist once every six months (or as needed) plays a significant role in ensuring that your teeth, gums, and tongue are problem-free.

If you’re on the lookout for a new dentist, Kyrene Family Dentistry offers a wide variety of dental services, ranging from routine dental care to restorative and cosmetic solutions. Call us now at 480-705-9005 to schedule your first consultation. We look forward to welcoming you to our dental family.