Dental Health in Pregnancy: How to Clean Your Tongue Without Gagging

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Brushing your tongue is a good way to maintain good oral health. Your tongue is home to up to 50% of the bacteria in your mouth, and if you brush your tongue when you clean your teeth, you may remove some of this bacteria and prevent it from doing any damage to your teeth and gums.

While you may not have had an issue brushing your tongue in the past, you may find that it is harder to do once you are pregnant, especially if you're suffering from morning sickness. Hitting the back of your tongue with your toothbrush may trigger your gag reflex and may make you feel too sick to continue. However, with a little perseverance, you may be able to find a different way to clean your tongue.

Experiment With Your Toothbrush

If brushing your tongue triggers a bout of morning sickness, you may find it easier to adapt the way you brush. For example, you may find it easier to try the following methods:

  • Brush your tongue gently: If your gag reflex is a bit fragile, the enthusiastic scrubbing action you may have used in the past to clean your tongue may be enough to make you feel sick. If you brush less actively, this may less of a problem.
  • Avoid your gag points: Typically, you'll gag when your toothbrush hits the bumpy bits on the back of your tongue. You may be able to cope better by sticking your tongue out as far as you can so you can see the back of your tongue in a mirror. Start brushing from the front and stop before you hit the back or as soon as you feel the slightest gagging sensation.
  • Try a children's toothbrush: Children's toothbrushes have smaller heads than adult ones. You may find that a smaller head is easier to control and doesn't make you gag as much as your regular toothbrush.

Sometimes, the general motion of brushing your tongue won't feel right and may make you feel nauseous. If you can't find a way to make brushing work for you, you can try finding other ways to clean your tongue.

Alternative Ways to Clean Your Tongue

You may find it easier to use tongue-cleaning solutions that don't involve any brushing action when you're pregnant. For example, one of these methods may work for you:

  • A tongue scraper: Tongue scrapers scrape the surface of the tongue and remove debris from it.
  • Teaspoons: You can also use a teaspoon as a tongue scraper. Angle the spoon so that the bowl is upside down over your tongue and then pull the spoon down your tongue to clean it.
  • Floss: If a scraper or spoon feels too big in your mouth and makes you feel ill, try a piece of floss. Stick your tongue out as far as is comfortable and hold the floss horizontally across your tongue. Lower the floss on to your tongue and then pull it down towards the tip to scrape off some of the surface gunk.

If you can't find a comfortable way to clean your tongue when you're pregnant but want to do something about the bacteria in your mouth, talk to your dentist to see if you can get any other tips. For example, your dentist may advise you to try an antibacterial mouthwash that is safe to use in pregnancy.