Brushing and flossing are essential for good oral health
, but there’s a lot more to our mouths than just teeth and gums! That means taking care of our teeth is just the start of a great oral healthcare routine.
Helping us to talk and
taste, our tongue is a hero. And just like our teeth, our tongue is bombarded by bacteria and other oral maladies from time to time. While brushing the tongue can help rid it of bacteria, there's an even better way to keep it clean.
Tongue scraping is an ancient Ayurvedic practice created to help keep our whole mouth cleaner – so we can enjoy fresher breath and healthier teeth and gums overall.
What is tongue scraping?
Tongues carry all kinds of particles – from good and bad mouth bacteria, to bits of food, dead skin cells and other debris in our saliva. Many of these particles can contribute to bad breath, plaque, tartar build-up and dental decay that, if left alone, can wreak havoc on our teeth and gums.
Just like toothbrushes manually scrub our teeth to get rid of plaque, tartar and bits of food, tongue scraping physically removes particles by gently dragging a special tool – a small, slightly curved device made from metal or plastic – across the surface of the tongue.
Benefits of tongue scraping
Anytime we get rid of bad bacteria in our mouths, our oral health will improve. But, because our tongue plays such diverse roles (speaking, swallowing, etc.) cleaning it is believed to come with a variety of somewhat surprising benefits.
Clearer sense of taste:
When your tastebuds are covered with a film of bacteria and other particles, it can affect their performance. By clearing the way, your sense of taste may improve.
Improved look and feel of the tongue:
Over time, bacteria and particle build-up can create a white biofilm over your tongue. Scraping breaks up that coating, helping your tongue look and feel cleaner.
Boosted overall dental health:
Removing harmful mouth bacteria (like the bad-breath causing and dental decaying strains, lactobacilli
and mutans streptococci
) can help to prevent halitosis (bad breath), cavities – and even gum disease.
*Keep in mind that tongue scraping should never replace key oral health practices like brushing and flossing.
Can I scrape my tongue with my toothbrush?
Although cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush is better than not cleaning it at all, using a dedicated tongue scraper seems to be the most effective tongue cleaning method
However, toothbrushes are available today that feature a specially-designed tongue scraper on the back of the brush head. Much like a tongue scraping tool, these devices can be very effective at cleaning your tongue.
How to use a tongue scraper
Scraping your tongue is a simple step to add to your oral health routine as the whole process takes less than two minutes to complete.
Before or after brushing your teeth
, stand in front of the mirror, open your mouth and stick out your tongue.
Carefully place the rounded end of the scraper at the back of your tongue then, applying slight
pressure, pull it forward to the tip of your tongue. Remove any debris from the scraper with a washcloth or with running water.
To avoid triggering your gag reflex, you can also start in the middle of your tongue. As you get used to the sensation, you can work further back.
Repeat this motion one to three times until you’ve scraped the entire surface (and sides!) of your tongue. Make sure to clean the tool between each scrape.
Only pull the scraper from the back of your tongue to the front. Do not pull the scraper from the tip of your tongue to the back.
Rinse your mouth with water, then, for extra fresh breath, rinse with mouthwash. Wash your tongue scraper with hot, soapy water then store it in a clean, dry place.
Tip: Scrape your tongue after every meal or each time you brush your teeth to help keep your breath fresh and your oral health in peak condition.