Background and objectives: Mechanical cleaning of the tongue is suggested as an effective method for reducing cultivable flora of the tongue and teeth and decreasing oral malodor. The aim of this study was to evaluate the general attitude, knowledge and behaviour of a representative sample of Italian population regarding the hygienic tongue procedures. Methods: The survey has been conducted in January and February 2003 through structured phone interviews using CATI (computer aided telephone interviews) methods by EuriskoOmnibus, a specialized agency, on commission by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare S.p.A.-Italy. The sample has been randomly chosen among urban and rural residents from age 15 onwards with a nationwide distribution in proportion to the last demoskopic feature of general Italian population. Relevant data has been processed with MSExcel and StatView software in an Apple G4 Powerbook PC. Results: The sample is composed by 2000 individuals, 52% females and 48% males. Of these, 6% have an academic degree, 23% high school and 71% lower middle school Over one-third (39%) of Italians interviewed declared to perform specifically tongue cleaning: 40% of them every time they perform oral hygiene twofold or more daily, 24% once a day and 36% less than daily; the tongue cleaning habits are more diffuse in younger people. Seventy-one per cent of tongue cleaners perform the procedure with an ordinary toothbrush, 22% declared to clean tongue with an oral rinse and only 4% utilize specific tongue instruments. In our sample main reasons for tongue cleaning practices were reaching a better oral hygiene (60%) and fighting bad breath (25%). Conclusions: In Italians tongue cleaning is more diffuse than expected but the reasons are not principally related to the reduction of halitosis.
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