Tongue scrapers are in use for centuries and originally started in India. As part of traditional Indian medicine, it was thought that scraping your tongue would rid the body of harmful toxins and promote a general sense of well-being. While the practice has been done for centuries with great success, Western medical professionals are now learning about the benefits of using a tongue scraper regularly for both oral and overall health benefits. In fact, many dentists now recommend to their patients that they scrape their tongue daily as part of their routine oral hygiene regimen.
What is Tongue Scraping?
Tongue scraping involves a tool that is used to go from the back of the tongue to the front and scrape off any bacteria or food particles that are present. It is performed in conjunction with brushing and flossing, and it is done by those who wish to prevent problems that might result in the harmful bacteria that is present on the tongue. The human mouth contains 100 to 200 different species of bacteria and an unhealthy mouth can have over one billion germs found among the teeth, gums and on the tongue. For this reason alone, a tongue scraper is one of the most useful tools with which you can begin a beneficial practice immediately.
Why Dentists Recommend that Patients Scrape Their Tongues
There are several reasons your dentist might tell you to start using a tongue scraper. For one, it's been shown that scraping your tongue removes thousands of bacteria from the tongue's surface each time you use your scraping tool. This bacteria would otherwise be living in your mouth and feeding off of the foods and drinks that you consume, leading to dental decay and the need for fillings, root canals, and other dental procedures. Some dental professionals are still behind times and do not feel that using a tongue scraper is as important as using a toothbrush and floss, but there are many studies that have shown that simply beginning to use a tongue scraper once a day reduces bad breath odors and halitosis by up to 90 percent. Most of the bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath are found on the tongue, not the gums or teeth. So, it's definitely worth incorporating into your daily dental hygiene routine.
Benefits of Tongue Scraping
There are many benefits to scraping your tongue that you may or may not be aware of. Here is a list of those advantages:
- Reduces bad breath caused by germs and bacteria on the tongue.
- Stimulates the taste buds, which enhances a person's sense of taste.
- Removes the slime coating on the tongue that can contribute to tooth decay.
- Improves digestive health, since many foods are first broken down in the mouth.
- Reduces toxins found in the body from food that is left to ferment on the tongue.
What Tongue Cleaning Tool is Right For the Job?
The tongue scraper that you use is very important in how well it gets your tongue clean. A typical scraper will be on a small stick with a piece of plastic that forks out and has a plastic or silicone bar in the middle. This bar is then used to slowly scrape down the tongue to remove bacteria, slime and undigested food. Other scraping devices are long and can be bent by using the two handles that they come with. This allows you to shape the tongue scraper in whatever position and size that you need to do the job. The specific type of scraper you choose depends on what's available to you and what you can afford. Any scraper that is able to effectively scrape the tongue with enough pressure to remove slime and bacteria will be efficient enough to get the job done.
The majority of tongue scrapers are plastic, but some are made of metal and even copper. Copper tongue scrapers have alternative benefits that are still considered to be controversial. For example, many believe that using a copper scraper will promote healthy microbes within the mouth and is toxic to harmful bacteria. Whether or not this is true is still up for debate, but the idea is to use a scraper that you feel comfortable using and that is affordable for your budget.
Alternative Tools That Act Like a Tongue Cleaner
While it's not necessarily as good because brushes are made more for hard surfaces rather than soft, you can use your toothbrush in a pinch to clean your tongue. Some toothbrushes even have a flat silicone side that is specific to helping clean your tongue. You can also use a spoon if you do not currently have a scraper. Metal spoons are ideal in this situation since you can use them, spoon side down, to scrape the tongue from back to front. Another tool you could use in place of a traditional scraper is good old-fashioned string floss. Pull out roughly 10 inches of floss, twist it around your middle or index fingers and pull it down your tongue from back to front.
Other Products to Clean Your Tongue
Along with using a high-quality scraper or alternative tool, many people swear by tongue cleaner gel or foam. These products should be applied directly to the tongue before using the scraper, and they help to reduce the number of bacteria on the tongue for fresher breath and a healthier mouth.
How to Use Tongue Scraper Tools
The best way for you to use a scraper is to scrape the tongue from as far back as is comfortable for you to the front. You will then flick and rinse off the scraper and do the motion again. It should only take you 10 or 20 seconds to clean your tongue. If you're using a gel or foam in conjunction with a scraper, you can apply this to your tongue immediately before scraping. It's recommended that you scrape your tongue once a day, preferably before brushing your teeth and using mouthwash.
Keeping the Tools Clean
Because your scraper is coming into contact with a lot of bacteria, it's going to be covered in harmful germs and toxins that could be introduced back into your mouth if you don't clean the tool properly. The best way for you to clean your scraper is to soak it in either alcohol or mouthwash. This will kill any bacteria found on the tool so that you can use a fresh scraper every time you clean your tongue. It's also recommended that you replace your scraper every three months as you would a toothbrush.
Conclusion: You probably spend a good amount of your time brushing your teeth, using mouthwash and flossing each and every single tooth, but if you're not cleaning your tongue, you're missing out on one of the most important parts of good oral hygiene. If you have bad breath and don't understand why because your teeth are clean and free of decay, it could be that your tongue needs to be scraped. Oftentimes, people who start scraping their tongues find that they not only have fresher breath, but their teeth and gums are healthier and they have more zest for flavors and tastes.