Tongue scraping is a simple wellness routine that can change your oral health and life. It allows you to quickly and easily remove food particles and other debris from the tongue’s surface, which helps prevent bad breath and other oral issues. Tongue scraping is done using a small, rounded metallic or plastic tool with rubber handles.
Although scraping is not a substitute for proper and regular tooth brushing, or a replacement for professional tooth cleaning, adding this Ayurvedic practice to your morning and evening, dental cleaning routine provides a myriad of benefits. According to Ayurveda teachings (a traditional Hindu medicine system dating back thousands of years), the tongue determines your body/mind type (doshas) and indicates the state of your health. So, scraping is necessary to remove bacteria, fungi, food debris, dead cells, and other toxins from the surface of the tongue.
Why Tongue Scraping is Important
While sleeping at night, your digestive system continues working while removing toxic substances from your body, some of which are deposited on the surface of your tongue. Since there is less saliva secretion during sleep, food particles, bacteria, and plaque may cause tooth damage. Dental professionals recommend removing these harmful substances first thing in the morning to ensure the optimal health of your teeth, gums, and oral cavity.
Scraping away the debris reduces the risk of these substances being reabsorbed by the body and causing harm. As such, scraping also enhances the function of your immune system. Regularly brushing your teeth, flossing, and gargling with water or mouthwash helps improve your oral and overall health.
The benefits of tongue scraping include:
- Removing bacteria. Studies show that scraping your tongue twice a day can reduce the presence of Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli bacteria in your mouth, which are responsible for tooth decay and bad breath.
- Reducing bad breath. Studies show that tongue scraping, combined with proper tooth brushing, significantly enhances the removal of odour-causing bacteria. Some researchers even suggest that scraping is more effective than brushing for reducing bad breath. This is because scraping removes the dead cells, bacteria, and debris on your tongue that lead to bad breath.
- Improving general health. Scraping your tongue prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into your body, which in turn helps to boost your body’s overall immune functions. Scraping reduces bacteria and debris on the tongue, teeth, and gums, which reduces the risk of cavities, gum disease, and other oral problems. Research shows that tongue scraping can help to remove bacteria from the mouth, which improves the appearance of the tongue and the overall sensation.
- Stimulating the taste buds. Adding tongue scraping to your usual morning oral hygiene routine, followed by drinking a glass of water, is said to stimulate the digestive process. Tongue scraping alone stimulates the taste buds, improving the ability of the tongue to perceive tastes, digest food, and engage the lower intestines to encourage total bowel elimination in the morning. With an improved sense of taste, you will be better able to differentiate between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter sensations.
- Making your tongue look better. The accumulation of bacteria and debris on the surface of your tongue can cause it to appear whitish. Scraping twice a day can help to remove the white layer and maintain the true appearance of your tongue.
- Resisting bacterial accumulation. This benefit is mostly tied to the properties of a copper tongue scraper when compared to other materials for tongue scraping instruments.
While tongue scraping offers many benefits, it’s important that you visit a dental professional if you’re suffering from bad breath and other oral issues. Moreover, you should be consistent in your oral hygiene efforts by using the right tongue scraper at least once a day to enjoy the benefits.
Practicing Tongue Scraping
It’s simple to adhere to tongue scraping first thing each morning, as it takes less than 2 minutes. So, while standing in front of a mirror:
- Open your mouth and stick your tongue out.
- Pick up your metal or plastic scraping instrument.
- Lay it on the back of your tongue as far in as you can.
- Pull it forward gently to collect saliva and debris on the tongue.
- Wash the scraping instrument with hot water.
- Repeat the process 5 to 8 times while alternating the position of the instrument from the right side, left side, and far back of the tongue.
- Wash your mouth a few times with lukewarm water and then spit into the sink. Repeat this 3 times. This is necessary to remove loosened debris that wasn’t removed by the scraping instrument. You can also use a mouthwash for this step.
Stay focused when scraping to keep your tongue relaxed while pulling the scraping tool gently. Using a scraper is more effective than brushing your tongue with a toothbrush. In fact, some researchers have found that tongue scrapers are 30 percent more effective than a soft-bristled toothbrush for removing volatile sulfur compounds. Fortunately, tongue scrapers are inexpensive and readily available at most drug stores and health food stores, as well as online.
Tongue scraping instruments are made from different materials, including copper, tin, silver, gold, brass, and plastic. Copper is considered the best material because it’s toxic to the bad bacteria in your mouth, plus it provides vital enzymes that promote the survival of good bacteria and other important microbes in your mouth. Silver and stainless steel are also preferred materials for the tongue scraper material.
Tongue scraping should be done by everyone. That said, your dentist may notice some problems during your routine examination and tooth cleaning, thus recommending tooth scraping to manage the symptoms. For instance, smokers and people with bad breath (halitosis), those suffering from fungal growth (brown hairy tongue), and people who consume pungent or strongly odoured foods can benefit greatly from tongue scraping.
Please visit Oakville Place Dental to learn more about tongue scraping and how it can help to enhance your oral health.