No doubt, you’ve heard of tongue scraping, right? Or at least tongue brushing? I know my dentist is an advocate of tongue brushing. Either way, the concept is to clean your tongue as part of your daily oral hygiene routine which, of course, should already include brushing and flossing your teeth. Of course, you could clean your tongue with your toothbrush, but if you don't like the feel of the bristles on your tongue or your tongue is sensitive, a dedicated tongue scraper might be a better choice for your. Which begs, the questions - what is tongue scraping and why should we do it?
What is tongue scraping?
Tongue cleaning itself is an ancient Ayurvedic ritual designed to improve oral health. It involves the removal of debris, bacteria and dead cells from the surface of your tongue. Throughout history, tongue scrapers have been constructed of thin, flexible strips of wood, metal, ivory, whale bone and plastic. It is said that George Washington owned a tongue ‘scraper’ which can be seen in Mount Vernon, Virginia, and that military leaders like Napoleon and Julius Caesar were also fans of tongue cleaning.
What are the benefits of tongue scraping?
- Freshening your breath – the surface of your tongue is rough, with many peaks and troughs that form the perfect place for bacteria to settle in and thrive. This layer of bacteria develops throughout the day and also while you sleep. Bacteria on your tongue can lead to bad breath (halitosis).
- Improving your sense of taste – removing the build-up of bacteria from your tongue will help leave your taste buds more exposed, thereby enabling you to better taste your favourite foods.
- Improving your oral health – bacteria build-up on your tongue can contribute to plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum problems, like gingivitis. Removal of excess bacteria from your tongue (and, consequently, your mouth) can help your overall oral health through healthier teeth and gums.
- Preventing toxins from being reabsorbed – it has been said that the tongue is your first line of defense in your immune system and that scraping it prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into your body, thereby boosting overall immune function.
- Improving your digestive health – it is said that scraping the tongue activates saliva production and stokes the agni (your digestive fire) for the day ahead.
Image source: Canva
Modern tongue scrapers
Most modern tongue scrapers have a “U” shape which helps them to collect and trap the bacteria as they are swept across the surface of the tongue, allowing that bacteria to be rinsed away under your bathroom tap. Whilst your toothbrush can be effective at loosing debris, it is not ideal for picking up and removing deposits from your tongue.
How to use a tongue scraper
- Brush your teeth, floss and rinse as you normally would.
- Stick your tongue out and run the scraper over the entire surface of your tongue with a light pressure, starting from the very back and working towards the front. Rinse the scraper under warm water.
- Repeat a few times, rinsing between each pass.
Disclaimer: The author Naturally Safe Cosmetics are not health professionals. Any information or advice in this communication is of a general nature only and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For medical advice regarding your own personal circumstances, we recommend you contact your GP or other healthcare professional.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov; dentalcare.com; mindbodygreen.com; womenshealthmag.com; everydayayurveda.org