May 15 , 2023
Debris, bacteria, and dead cells can build up on your tongue over time. This can lead to bad breath and have a negative impact on your overall oral health. One misconception is that using a toothbrush on your tongue is just as effective as using a tongue scraper. The results of one 2004 study suggest otherwise. Researchers found that tongue scrapers removed 30 percent more volatile sulfur compounds on the tongue than a soft-bristled toothbrush. Also a smooth tongue scraper causes less irritation and tissue trauma than the bristles of a toothbrush.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, tongue scraping should be performed on a daily basis. This ancient practice helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of the body, improve digestion by increasing your sense of taste, and cleanse the body by removing toxins and bacteria from your oral cavity. In addition, along with healthy foods, it can clear and invigorate the mind and is a great way to start the day.
By removing the coating, it increases your taste reception, not only do you eat less, you also eliminate the need to add more sugar, salt, or excessive spice to the food to make it more flavourful. Many of the beneficial phytonutrients and “body signals” that food contains are first interpreted by the mind-body upon contact with receptors on the tongue. You want to improve this communication between your food and your body by removing any coating that is interfering with that connection.
Benefits of Tongue scraping include:
Improve your sense of taste. Older research suggests that using a tongue scraper twice daily can improve your sense of taste. Your tongue may be able to better distinguish between bitter, sweet, salty, and sour sensations.
Improve the appearance of your tongue. Buildup of excess debris can cause your tongue to take on a white, coated appearance. Daily scraping can help remove this coating and prevent it from returning.
Remove bacteria. Researchers in one 2005 study found that using a tongue scraper twice a day for seven days reduced the overall incidence of Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria types are known to cause bad breath and dental decay.
Improve overall health. Removing bacteria is key to preventing cavities, gum disease, and other conditions affecting the mouth.
Reduce bad breath. Researchers in one 2004 study found that scraping was more effective than brushing at removing odor-causing bacteria. Bacteria will build up as you eat and drink, so if you’re concerned about bad breath, you’ll need to scrape after every meal. At a minimum, scrape your tongue when you brush your teeth. This will help prevent long-term buildup that’s associated with severe bad breath.
To perform tongue scraping, follow these steps:
Looking in the mirror gently set the rounded end of the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue.
To help avoid gagging start at the middle of your tongue. You can gradually start from farther back as you get used to scraping.
Gently touch the scraper to your tongue. Slowly pull it forward, toward the tip of your tongue. Always go from the back of the tongue to the tip. You should be mindful of how much pressure you’re applying. You want to be gentle enough to avoid harming your taste buds or breaking the skin, but firm enough to scrape up excess debris.
After each scrape, use a washcloth or tissue to remove debris from the scraper.
Repeat until you’ve scraped the entire surface of your tongue. One to two scrapes across the same area is usually enough.
Wash the tongue scraper with warm water and soap, dry, and store in a clean, dry area. The entire process usually takes less than two minutes. Repeat as needed throughout the day.
While a gold or silver tongue scraper is common, new research on the health benefits of copper make a copper tongue scraper hard to beat. Copper has been used for centuries as a bacteria-resistant metal, and new studies are confirming these ancient practices. The mouth is loaded with both good and not-so-good bacteria. Copper not only seems to be toxic to the bad bacteria, it also provides important enzymes that are needed for the healthy microbes in the mouth to survive.
The tongue can be a mirror to all the organs of the body, and thus, a daily look at the tongue prior to scraping gives you a clue to your general health. An Ayurvedic practitioner may perform a tongue examination as a useful way of evaluating the health of the entire body. When you examine your tongue daily, it’s an opportunity for self-awareness, where you can reflect on the choices of the last several days, months, or years and see how those choices have affected your health. If a thick coating is noted, try tongue cleaning along with your other oral hygiene practices and see if you notice a difference. This simple daily practice can bring more self-awareness and gives you the opportunity to make new, healthier choices.