In the quest for a fresh breath and a clean, healthy mouth, most of us focus on brushing our teeth and using mouthwash. However, there’s another tool that has been around for centuries, promising not just fresh breath but a host of other oral benefits – the tongue scraper. If you’ve never heard of it or are curious about what it does, you’re in for a treat.

What is a Tongue Scraper?

A tongue scraper is a simple tool designed to clean the surface of your tongue. It typically consists of a thin, flat piece of metal or plastic that is curved to fit the contour of your tongue. The tool might seem basic, but its impact on oral health can be profound.

How to Use a Tongue Scraper

Using a tongue scraper is straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Open Wide: Begin by opening your mouth and sticking out your tongue as comfortably as you can.
  • Position the Scraper: Place the scraper at the back of your tongue. If it’s your first time, you might feel a gag reflex. Start closer to the tip if that’s the case, and with practice, you’ll be able to go further back.
  • Scrape Gently: Apply gentle pressure and scrape the surface of your tongue, moving from the back to the tip.
  • Rinse: Once you’ve scraped the entire surface, rinse the scraper under running water.
  • Repeat: It’s usually good to scrape 2-3 times to ensure you’ve removed as much residue as possible.

After a few days of practice, this entire process should take less than a minute. Remember, the key is gentleness. Overzealous scraping can damage the tongue’s delicate tissue.

Tongue Scraper Benefits

Now that we’ve established what a tongue scraper is and how to use it, let’s delve into the myriad benefits that come with regular use.

Fresher Breath

The primary reason most people turn to tongue scraping is to combat bad breath. Over time, food particles, bacteria, and dead cells accumulate on your tongue, especially towards the back. This buildup is a breeding ground for the sulphur-producing bacteria that cause bad breath. Regularly using a tongue scraper can help eliminate this, leading to noticeably fresher breath.

Enhanced Taste

Clearing away the debris on your tongue can also enhance your taste buds. With the coating removed, you might find that foods taste more vibrant and flavours are more distinct.

Improved Oral Hygiene

Your tongue is a significant part of your mouth, and keeping it clean contributes to overall oral hygiene. By removing bacteria from the tongue, you’re reducing the risk of it transferring to your teeth and gums, which can help in preventing cavities and gum issues.

Aesthetic Benefits

A coated tongue doesn’t just feel unpleasant; it can also be a cosmetic concern. A regular tongue scraping routine can help your tongue maintain a healthy pink colour instead of a white or yellowish coating.

Two females showing healthy tongue

Digestive Health

The process of digestion begins in the mouth, and a clean tongue can aid in this. Removing toxins and bacteria from the tongue’s surface can prevent them from being ingested and affecting your gut health.

Reduced Plaque Build-up

Regular tongue scraping can reduce bacteria in the mouth, potentially aiding in teeth whitening by preventing plaque build-up on teeth. By removing these bacteria from the tongue’s surface, you’re taking one more step towards minimising plaque in your oral environment.

Prevention of Oral Diseases

Many oral diseases start with bacterial overgrowth. With regular tongue scraping, you reduce bacterial loads, which can decrease the risk of oral infections, gum diseases, and other dental issues.

Boosted Immunity

The mouth is one of the primary gateways for pathogens to enter our bodies. By keeping the tongue clean, you’re reducing the number of potential pathogens you might ingest, thereby strengthening your first line of defence against illnesses.

Prevents Reinfection

If you’ve recently suffered from an oral infection or throat infection, keeping your tongue clean can prevent reinfection by removing lingering harmful bacteria.

Improved Appearance of the Tongue

Over time, with consistent use, a tongue scraper can help the tongue appear smoother and more pinkish, indicating a healthy, well-maintained tongue.

Tongue scraper with toothbrush on the wash basin

Holistic Health Benefits

In traditional Ayurvedic practices, tongue scraping (known as “jihwa prakshalana”) is believed to remove ‘ama’ or toxic residue, which is considered to lead to various diseases if left unchecked. By removing this layer, practitioners believe you’re promoting not just oral but overall systemic health.

Psychological Boost

Just as you feel refreshed after brushing your teeth or taking a bath, cleaning your tongue can give you a sense of rejuvenation and cleanliness, which can uplift your mood, especially in the morning.

Cost-Effective Preventive Measure

Tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive, making them a cost-effective method to add an extra layer of prevention and care in your oral hygiene routine.

What Does a Tongue Scraper Do Exactly?

To put it succinctly, a tongue scraper is a tool of cleanliness and prevention. By removing the unwanted build-up from your tongue, you’re not just enhancing your oral experience in terms of taste and breath, but you’re also contributing to the overall health of your mouth and, by extension, your body. Given the connection between oral health and systemic health, every step taken towards a cleaner mouth is a step towards overall well-being.

In Summary

Incorporating a tongue scraper into your daily oral routine is an easy yet effective way to boost your oral hygiene. Its benefits go beyond merely aesthetic or sensory – it’s about promoting a healthier mouth and, consequently, a healthier you. If you’ve never tried it, now might be the time to explore what this simple tool can do for your oral health and well-being.