You may not have ever thought about it this way, but our mouths are the gateway to our health. The environment in our mouths is gently balanced. With all things considered, our teeth, gums, and tongue work in harmony even though they are being bombarded daily by toxins, bacteria, and fungi.
When people think about oral hygiene, they tend to think about tooth health, which is essential. Tooth decay and gum disease can lead to halitosis or chronic bad breath, tooth loss, receding gums, and seemingly unrelated health issues like heart attacks. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that people with periodontal disease are two to three times more likely to suffer a heart attack. Maintaining the mouth’s health truly keeps the entire body healthy.
Sadly, while most people focus on battling plaque and gingivitis, they ignore a fundamental part of their mouths, the tongue. The truth is the tongue requires just as much attention as the teeth and gums to help keep a natural, healthy balance inside the mouth.
What is Tongue Scraping?
Tongue scraping isn’t nearly as outrageous as the name implies. Scraping the tongue consists of using a specialized tool to gently scrape and remove debris and germs from the tongue’s surface. Tools range from stainless steel to plastic and may come with one or two handles.
Tongue scraping is a practice that enhances other oral care activities, including brushing, flossing, and oil pulling. All these activities combined can help balance the levels of good and bad microbes inside the mouth.
Our Mouth Has a Lot Going on Inside
At any given time, our mouths are teeming with microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Some are good, and some are bad. Additionally, over 600 species of organisms swim around in our saliva and cling to our teeth, gums, and tongue. Certain organisms prefer the hard surface of the teeth, while others are attracted to soft surfaces like gums, inner cheeks, and tongue. We usually think of the battle between good and bad bacteria waring in our digestive tract. Still, every area of the body balances microorganisms, and sometimes the balance is off, leading to illnesses and diseases.
Scraping the tongue helps keep the healthy balance of good and bad microbes and offer other tongue-scraping benefits, such as:
- Making food taste better
- Helping keep organs functioning
- Reducing bad breath
- Allowing the mouth to feel cleaner
- Preventing chronic illnesses
Tongue Scraping Helps Food Taste Better
You may be missing out on some tasty food without even knowing it. Our tongues have receptors that help identify sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. When our tongues are clean, they experience these sensations at a much greater level. When our tongues collect too much bacteria, they can become less sensitive to taste, prompting us to add salt and sugar to foods to enhance their flavor. A double whammy, this can add calories and cause illnesses and disease from consuming too much salt and sugar. Tongue scraping helps you enjoy the taste of your meals and may lead to reduced calorie intake and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Tongue Scraping Helps Your Whole Body
Tongue scraping has been a practice since ancient times. Ayurvedic medicine connects all aspects of the mind and body and focuses on creating harmony between the systems as they interact. From this perspective, the mouth is a gateway between the outside and inside world. Keeping the mouth healthy helps distill literal and figurative pollutants coming into the body. Tongue scraping Ayurveda includes removing the toxicity from the mouth, leading to a healthier mind and body.
In Chinese medicine, the tongue is associated with several organs throughout the body. The belief being that meridians or pathways originating in different organs end at the tongue. It is also believed that the tongue is divided into three sections, each corresponding to the upper, middle, and lower parts of the body. In Chinese medicine, much can be learned about the body’s health by the state of the tongue. Keeping the tongue clean through tongue scraping can help keep the entire body healthy.
Tongue Scraping Can Boost Your Confidence
With so much going on in our mouths, it’s no wonder our breath can suffer. Brushing and flossing go a long way but adding the easy step of tongue scraping can improve your breath and confidence. Scraping the tongue gets rid of 30% more bacteria than brushing and flossing, and it leaves your mouth feeling cleaner than brushing alone. Knowing you’ve taken the time to clean your mouth thoroughly boosts your confidence and makes it easier to be outgoing and engaging.
What to Use to Scrape the Tongue
Tongue scrapers are easy to find and come in a variety of materials. You can find them generally under ten dollars in most stores or online. They can be stainless steel, plastic, or other metals. Some toothbrushes claim to have tongue scraping features, but they generally do not have enough strength to scrape the surfaces properly. Overall, the best scraper is the one you prefer, there are many to choose from! We personally prefer these stainless steel tongue scrapers.
How to Scrape the Tongue
Tongue scraping is simple enough and beneficial for adults and children. Begin by brushing and flossing as you usually would; place the tongue scraper at the back of the tongue, careful not to go too far, or you might gag. Gently scrape from the farthest point back towards the front of the tongue. Be sure to rinse your scraper after each pass. Repeat the process until you have covered the span of the tongue. Swish and rinse and clean the scraper with warm water.
Extra Steps That Improve Oral Health
While tongue scraping is a best practice for a clean and healthy mouth, you can include other equally beneficial habits with your daily oral hygiene routine. Be sure to add these to maximize your health.
- Choose the right toothpaste for your health. You can learn more about fluoride and how to make your toothpaste at home with my recipe.
- Brush, floss, and scrape at least two times a day
- Remember to brush your gums
- Practice oil pulling routinely
- Invest in a sonic toothbrush
- Drink plenty of water every day
- Avoid tobacco products
- See your dentist regularly
You may have never considered the benefits of tongue scraping, but it’s an excellent way to keep your mouth fresh and your body healthy. It’s easy to do and will help you feel more confident all day.