We are all pretty clued up on brushing and flossing our teeth, but have you ever thought about tongue scraping? Don’t worry, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. It is a completely painless and safe way to cleanse your tongue. It doesn’t take up too much time and can be easily incorporated into your daily oral health routine.
You may have seen the Instagram posts doing their rounds, but the art of scraping your tongue is not a new beauty trend, in fact, it has been around for centuries with firm roots in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It is done with a small, rounded plastic or metal tool that helps to remove food buildup, toxins, fungi, and bacteria from the surface of the tongue. If you have never heard of this strange practice before, here’s what you need to know.
Why Is Tongue Health So Important?
We put a lot of focus on our gums and teeth, but looking after your tongue properly is just as important. We all know how important the tongue is for speech, digestion, and taste, but did you know that the condition of your tongue is an indicator of what is happening deep inside the body? It is linked to our most important organs and can be used to detect serious health conditions early on. This is one of the main reasons why a medical professional will ask you to stick out your tongue during an examination.
Because it plays such an important role in several bodily functions it should not be overlooked when it comes to oral hygiene, which is why many dental health professionals recommend using a tongue scraper as the cheapest and most effective way to keep it in good shape. But a good looking tongue is not the only benefit you get from these magical devices.
The Benefits Of Tongue Scraping
Our mouths serve as the main entry point for a lot of toxins and bacteria, which can be found in our food, drinks, and the environment. Even certain factors such as our own waste and high levels of stress can add to the accumulation of these harmful substances. Over time, all the food we eat, dead cells, and pathogens build up on the surface of our tongue in the form of a white film, which ultimately leads to a few negative side effects such as bad breath.
Bad breath is one of the main reasons why many turn to tongue scraping. The back of the tongue provides the perfect breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria, or in other words, bacteria that do not need any oxygen to survive. The sulfuric excretions made by these types of bacteria are what cause bad breath and halitosis. Sometimes a toothbrush is not enough to reach these deep dark spaces in the mouth, which can also lead to more severe problems such as gum disorders and tooth decay. Studies have shown that using a tongue scraper twice a day reduces bacteria responsible for causing periodontal disease – Lactobacilli and Mutans streptococci. A second study has also revealed that tongue scraping is more effective at removing putrefying bacteria compared to a regular toothbrush.
Another main benefit of tongue scraping is that it actually helps to improve taste. Remember that white film we mentioned earlier? Well, all that buildup of food and debris blocks the taste buds, leaving a very distinct metallic taste in your mouth. According to a 2004 study, scraping not only helps to improve taste but also makes it easier to differentiate between sour, sweet, salty, and bitter sensations.
While brushing is the most important part of your oral health routine, a tongue scraper can certainly benefit you by making the mouth feel fresher for longer without the lingering bad breath or the sour taste.
How To Use A Tongue Scraper
First, you will need to purchase a tongue scraping tool, which is widely available in most supermarkets and pharmacies. These tools are either made from stainless steel, copper, or plastic, however, they all work the same way. If you are really strapped for cash or keep forgetting to add it to the shopping list, you can use a clean spoon, but it may be a bit more difficult to maneuver.
Once you have your handy tongue scraper all you need to do is:
- Brush as normal.
- Stick your tongue out while facing the mirror.
- Place the curved edge of the scraper on the back of your tongue. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, try starting in the middle of the tongue to start. Once you are used to the entire process, you can place it a bit further back.
- Next, gently pull the scraper across your tongue toward the tip of the tongue. Don’t go backward as this will only cause the debris to sit in the back of your throat.
- Using a tissue, clean the tool after each scrape before putting it back on your tongue.
- Repeat the process once or twice to ensure the entire coating has been removed. Don’t overdo it as you can hurt yourself. Repeating the process twice should be enough.
- Rinse your mouth.
- Clean the scraper with warm water and toothpaste or soap and store it in a clean, dry container.
It may take an extra minute or two but the results are worth it.
What Precautions Should You Take?
Tongue scraping is a safe practice that doesn’t take much to master, however, there are a few precautions you should take. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, it may cause you to vomit. If this does stimulate your gag reflex, then it is best to start in the middle of the tongue, especially if you placed it too far back at first. Once you get used to the sensation of scraping, you can start a little further back, working your way to the tip.
It is also important to perform this process gently as the tool may break the skin of your tongue, especially if you have any rough edges or bumps. Be sure to inspect your tongue for any cuts or tender, raw spots before using the scraper.
More Helpful Tips For Fresher Breath And Fewer Cavities
While tongue scraping is a great addition to your oral health routine, it does not replace brushing or flossing. To preserve gum, tongue, and tooth health, you need to incorporate all three into your daily routine along with these few helpful tips:
- Use a toothpaste and mouthwash that contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
- Avoid smoking
- Brush for at least two minutes twice a day.
- Don’t forget to brush your gums.
- Floss once or twice a day to remove any food between the teeth.
- Be sure to drink enough water to help eliminate bad breath.
The Bottom Line
Tongue scraping is an inexpensive way to keep your tongue free from bacteria and other toxins that may be hiding in the grooves of the tongue. Removing the buildup will help keep your breath fresh and can also improve the way food tastes, which we can all agree is a great added bonus. A well-rounded oral hygiene routine can help stave off cavities and protect your gums against inflammation and infection. If bad breath is a persistent problem that you have despite scraping, you may want to incorporate a high-quality supplement like Odorol™ by Approved Science® to help combat breath and body odor naturally.