Can Brushing Your Tongue Affect Your Taste Buds?

Of all the things we brush as part of our regular daily hygiene routine — our hair, our teeth — our tongues should also definitely be one of them. According to dental experts at Sun-Park Dental, brushing your tongue regularly can help eliminate sour breath, decrease the risk of cavities, and rid your mouth of potentially harmful bacteria that can nestle into the grooves of the tongue's surface. So, tongue brushing can positively impact our oral health, but how does tongue brushing affect our taste buds? Is it good or bad news for our mini flavor detectors?

Taste buds, scientifically referred to as papillae, are the tiny bumps located on the surface of the tongue that help us determine the flavors of the foods we eat (via Australian Academy of Science). Each of our tongues contain thousands of taste buds. Because the receptor cells within each individual taste bud are regularly shed with new ones emerging in their place, your taste buds are always operating at peak performance from week to week.

Brushing your tongue can help enhance your taste receptors

But can brushing your tongue dull your taste receptors? Turns out, the opposite is true. By removing unwanted bacteria from the surface of the tongue, you remove the buildup that acts as a barrier and prevents you from getting the full spectrum of flavors from your favorite dishes (via Advanced Dental). By brushing your tongue, your ability to detect different tastes and flavors becomes enhanced. However, just as you can brush your teeth too hard, you can also brush your tongue too roughly as well. In some cases, brushing with too much pressure can further push bacteria into the tongue's crevices (via Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat). Additionally, using excessive force can leave taste receptors damaged and susceptible to bacterial infection.

To brush your tongue most effectively, experts at recommend hitting the tongue twice a day with your toothbrush and toothpaste, just as you do for your teeth. Additionally, brushing the surface of your tongue sideways from left to right is just as important as a forward and back motion in order to ensure you're hitting the papillae from all angles. If your tongue starts to hurt, simply lighten up on the pressure.