A tongue scraper is a simple device for cleaning bacteria and other yucky stuff off your tongue. In addition to using a toothbrush to clean your teeth, you can improve your mouth’s freshness by using a tongue cleaner.
Millions of bacteria collect on your tongue, and simply brushing your teeth doesn’t remove those bacteria. Tongue bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds (VSC), which can cause bad breath.
The film that develops on your tongue while you sleep is a good indicator of what’s going on inside your body. The bacteria and fungi on the tongue are related to many common oral care and general health problems and is a leading cause of bad breath.
It’s not for nothing that doctors ask their patients to open wide and say “ahhh.” A close look at your tongue can reveal much about the overall state of your health.
A healthy tongue should be pink, clean and covered in papillae. Papillae are small, nipple or hair–like structures on the upper surface of the tongue that give the tongue its characteristic rough texture.
Inflamed, red, black or white tongues are usually a sign of poor oral hygiene.
Why scrape or clean your tongue?
It’s recommended you scrape and brush your tongue every day especially if you suffer from bad breath (halitosis). Tongue cleaning provides numerous benefits:
- improves your breath by removing the bacteria, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the tongue thereby reducing the odour from the mouth
- removing the debris build up on the surface of your tongue exposes your taste buds and improves your sense of taste
- scraping your tongue first thing in the morning will remove the toxins that the overnight detoxifying process excretes onto your tongue
- by removing bacteria and toxins from your tongue you are improving the overall health of your teeth and gums
How to use a tongue scraper
These small hand held devices have a curved edge that you drag across the top of your tongue to scrape off the bacteria. Simply place the scraper towards the back centre of your tongue, and drag it forward toward the tip of your tongue.
Do this twice or three times and then rinse the scraper; repeat this process a least twice. Repeat the one, two, three process again starting at the back left side and then the back right side of your tongue.
You may find you having to cope with reflex gagging the first few times you use a scraper. If your tongue is not a healthy looking pink colour you should clean your tongue every day for a while. Once it’s looking nice and pink again; once or twice a week should be enough.
Scraping versus brushing your tongue
A 2004 study showed that using a tongue scraper produced a 75% reduction in the compounds that can lead to bad breath. This compared to a 45% percent reduction in the compounds when a toothbrush was used to clean the tongue.
Another study was less conclusive; according to WebMD using a tongue scraper is slightly more effective than brushing your tongue when it comes to tackling problems with bad breath.
I really don’t get on well with using my toothbrush to clean my tongue as I tend to gag when I try. I don’t have that problem using a tongue scraper but that’s just a personal preference.
Either way you should be cleaning your tongue to improve your all round dental hygiene.