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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cleanest Tongue in the Midwest

Last night my Old Man and I watched the movie Julie & Julia. He hated it. I thought it had its merits. I actually loved the Julia part. I've always had a deep affection for Julia Child, and Meryl Streep really captured her good natured, exuberant joie de vivre and her big boned, robust grace. And the film effectively conveyed what was exceptional about her relationship with her husband, Paul. The Julie part was less captivating. I found Julie herself annoying, albeit in a somewhat sympathetic way, and didn't really see what she saw in her man or what he saw in her. That part of the movie could have been more of a frame, as far as I'm concerned, rather than half the flick.

My view of the movie in general is neither here nor there, but I bring it up because a particular moment in the movie struck me. Julie wrote a blog, of course - an initially unknown and underread and ultimately famous and lucrative blog. But even before her blog became famous, her readers began sending her stuff. Food. Speciality food items, which apparently she had blogged about having trouble getting in her area. (Though since she lived in Queens and worked in Manhattan, it's a bit hard to imagine what ingredient she'd be unable to find.)

My blog, humble as it is, and unlikely as it is ever to land me a book contract or a movie deal, has also earned me certain items in the mail. Specifically, toothbrushes and tongue cleaners. Sometimes an oral-hygiene-related business will come across my blog, email me, and ask if they can send me their toothbrush, toothpaste, or special tongue-cleaning device. Not one to turn down free shit (and, yes, a little flattered by the attention paid me as a bona fide oral hygiene expert), I'm always happy to receive these items. But, so far, none has inspired me to write about them.

In fact, I sometimes forget about my oral hygiene swag, which languishes in some drawer in the guest bathroom. I'm reminded when O. says "Mama, are you ever going to make that commercial about that tongue brush?" (When I got the tongue brush in the mail, O. asked about it and somehow my explanation gave him the impression that I'd been given the task of creating an ad for the thing.)

None of the tooth brushes I've been sent have impressed me as worthy of special note. They're all just ... toothbrushes. I think just about any soft-bristled toothbrush you buy at your local grocery store or pharmacy will serve you fine. I'm also a fan of the Sonic Care electric toothbrush, but I've never been sent one to review. (Attention Sonic Care, Braun, and Oral B representatives: send me your newest electric model, and I'll happily try it out and share my impressions!)

The one tongue cleaner I've been sent is actually a tongue brush (with the dubious brand name of "Tung"), and I must sadly say that, even though their tongue brush is pretty fancy looking and has a cool angled head, and even though they sent me a special tube of tongue cleaning gel to go with it, I am not an advocate of tongue brushes.

Here's why. According to my sources, "Brushing the tongue does little more than mash the bacteria and plaque deeper into the filliform, without addressing the real problem at the posterior part of the tongue." Yech. Apparently, it's the back area that really needs scraping. This anaerobic part of the tongue is the hiding place of most of the "bacteria and other debris that are the primary source of gaseous volatile-sulfur compounds (halitosis), hard plaque (tartar), and mineral leaching acids (tooth decay)." And scrape it you must, with some sort of hard and relatively sharp edge. A spoon works, apparently. But I prefer a simple tool designed especially for the task, and my favorite tongue scraper is the snow-shoe shaped variety that scrapes off the whole tongue one one goop-swoop.

My aunt recently asked me how to clean her tongue cleaner. I just rinse mine well with hot water after I use it each morning. I suppose if you're really fastidious, you can clean it the way you'd clean a toothbrush after a bout of sickness. A nice long soak in hydrogen peroxide is one way, or a run through the dishwasher. I don't recommend the microwave. (Ask my long suffering Old Man if you're curious about that one.)

But whatever tool you choose to use, I do recommend cleaning your tongue. (Especially if you've recently eaten a saucy meal of French cooking...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that description made me wish I could unscrew my tongue and stick it into a glass of vinegar. Maybe that blue stuff at the hairdressers. Regardless, I think it was enough to overcome my fear of involuntary taste-bud amputation and use the waterpik scrapey thingie. (Having had an it-ba previously, I can say it was absolutely as bad as it sounds it would be. Maybe worse.)

Thinking about you,
cousin Andi

9:30 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Hi E! You have provided fantastic tips on tongue cleaning and how to clean the tongue cleaner after use. Actually, I just started brushing my tongue meticulously after my dentist at the Hilton Head Dentists' clinic told me that this practice can lessen bacterial build-up and can prevent bad breath. My brother asked me yesterday how to properly care for his tongue cleaner and I'm going to share him the information that you have provided in your post. Thanks again!

7:43 PM  

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