Tongue scraping is an ancient practice that originated in Ayurvedic medicine more than 5,000 years ago. Some people use tongue scrapers to reduce bad breath and improve oral hygiene—and the Saskatoon dentists at BLOK Dental Studio wish more people would! The tongue is a huge and vital part of the mouth, which comes into direct contact with everything we eat or drink. Much like our teeth, if not cleaned regularly, our tongue can become the epicenter of bad oral bacteria that upset the microbiome of the mouth, causing gingivitis, bad breath, and other issues. This blog explains the benefits of tongue cleaning and tips for best practice.
Tongue cleaning and dental cleaning go hand in hand
Since the tongue is such a large part of the mouth, its condition influences that of the rest of the mouth. A healthy tongue will have a bumpy surface covered in papillae and taste buds. Each time we consume food or drink, this bumpy surface develops a mucousy film or coating that is inviting for oral bacteria who will rest and proliferate there, especially if not regularly cleaned during daily brushing and flossing routines. An overaccumulation of bacteria amidst the bumpy surface of the tongue will cause it to become very sticky, discoloured, or fuzzy in texture.
4 reasons to scrape your tongue every day:
- Improved sense of taste. Your sense of taste will be impeded by the sticky bacterial film coating the taste buds and the surface of the tongue. Cleaning your tongue frees your tastebuds for tasting!
- Get rid of the smell of food (including raw garlic or onion) from your breath. Food residue can rest on the tongue for hours if not rinsed or cleaned after meals, attracting bacteria who multiply and cause bad breath.
- Fresher breath in general. Most of the bad breath that we experience is due to the collection of food and bacteria that is deposited on the rough surfaces of the tongue. Tongue scraping will help remove this residual food and the bacteria that adhere to it.
- Improve the cleanliness microbiome balance of your mouth for improved oral health. A tongue that is consistently cleaned won’t provide any sticky film for those pesky oral bacteria looking for a place to feed, rest and reproduce.
Oral home care basics
One of the most common oral home care mistakes is skipping the tongue. Read our blog about Oral Home Care Basics for other common dental care mistakes and how to solve them. Tongue cleaning is an extremely useful practice. Every time you brush and floss—which should be at least twice daily—, remember to take a minute for your tongue!
DIY dentist’s best practice for tongue cleaning
Historically, tongue cleaning was done with any rough material—sometimes even the diet itself, which was not as soft as today’s. In recent years, toothbrushes have been designed to have a ridged surface on the back of the bristled side of the head of a toothbrush that can be used for scraping the tongue. Gently brushing your tongue from back to front with a toothbrush works, but the best way to clean your tongue is with a tongue scraper. To scrape your tongue, place the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue and gently pull it forward; spit, rinse, and repeat a few times. Do this every day as part of your oral care routine.
Copper tongue scraping
Although we do not need a separate instrument or appliance for tongue scraping, recently there have been new instruments or appliances that are available on the market. They are typically made out of plastic or some sort of metal such as stainless steel or copper. Copper is among the safest elements to be used in contact with human tissues in general and as such they tend to be more inert and less reactive. Stainless steel is just as good.
Saskatoon oral hygiene services for your teeth, gums, and tongue!
During your regular checkups and cleanings, our professional dental care team will screen your tongue for any signs of bacterial infection and give tongue care tips to support your oral health. Book your appointment today.