Our society is taught from a very young age about the importance of brushing our teeth on a regular basis. We do it to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, receding gums, halitosis, and to keep our teeth sparkling and white. Yet the importance of cleaning our tongue, or ‘tongue scraping,’ is a part of oral hygiene that is often overlooked.
Tongue scraping is a technique that has been recorded as being used by the Romans and throughout Europe for hundreds of years. It is also an ancient Ayurvedic technique and works by utilizing a flat edged object that is gently scraped along the top of the tongue in order to remove the build-up of bacteria, fungi, dead cells and food residue. It is this build-up of bacteria and fungi that is related to many common oral health issues as well as general health conditions such as: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, premature birth, osteoporosis in the jaw and even fertility problems in men.
Having a coating over the tongue is not uncommon and is often due to a larger number of bacteria and fungi accumulating and growing in this area. This white coating can also be caused by the body overproducing and depositing a protein called keratin on the surface of the tongue. Even though having a furry tongue is relatively harmless, it is a good idea to clean this build-up of bacteria and fungi in order to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent possible illness.
Benefits of tongue scraping
There are many reasons why incorporating tongue scraping should be a regular part of your daily dental hygiene practice.
● Remove toxins - By scraping the tongue you are removing bacterial build-up, fungi, dead cells and food debris that have coated it.
● Enhance flavors in your food - By regularly cleaning the surface of your tongue you are uncovering the taste buds needed to really experience and enjoy your meals!
● Improve digestive health - By scraping your tongue you are enhancing your ability to taste, and therefore assisting in saliva production which is integral to the digestive process.
● Reduce bad odors - The build-up of bacteria, fungi and other waste on your tongue plays a huge factor in the smell of your breath.
How to scrape your tongue
Tongue scrapers are inexpensive and available in most large supermarkets or drugstores. They were traditionally made from a thin, flat metal strip that has been bent in a ‘U’ shape. Though these are still available, tongue scrapers are more commonly made from a plastic (as in the image above).
To practice tongue scraping, place the scraper at the very back of the tongue and press down firmly, yet gently, as you slide the scraper to the front of the tongue. Rinse the scraper and repeat this approximately 5-10 times, making sure you scrape the whole of the top surface including the sides, until clean.
If you don’t have a tongue scraper available, using dental floss or gently brushing your tongue with your toothbrush can also be an effective way of cleansing and cleaning your tongue. Or stop into our studio and pick up a copper tongue scraper for $10. Happy scraping!