Does Tongue Scraping Actually Work, and Should I Be Doing It?

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The tongue is a muscular organ that enables us to talk, chew and swallow food. The surface of the tongue is rough due to the numerous papillae. These papillae are responsible for the taste and texture sensations in our mouths. Due to its uneven texture, the tongue collects debris and deposits. This forms a white or yellow coating on the tongue which is a common cause for foul breath. These deposits, if not cleaned, harbour various microorganisms which can cause oral diseases.

A tongue scraper is a tool used to clean these deposits from the surface of the tongue. Tongue scrapers can be made of plastic or metal. They are curved and have one scraping edge. While brushing twice a day ensures there is no plaque build-up, tongue scrapping ensures that the oral cavity is free from harmful bacteria. Most people opt for tongue scrapping to eliminate foul breath.

However, the benefits of tongue scraping can be seen only if the process is repeated regularly. One must include tongue scrapping to the brushing and flossing routine. Like brushing, tongue scraping should also be repeated twice a day for better results.

Benefits of using a tongue scraper

  • Prevents bad breath by removing volatile sulphur compounds
  • Removes harmful bacteria from the mouth preventing ulcers and gingivitis
  • Increases the aesthetic appeal
  • A clean tongue has a better sense of taste
  • Boosts overall health of the individual

How to use a tongue scraper?

For cleaning the surface of the tongue, one need not necessarily buy a tongue scraper. They can use the toothbrush to clean the tongue as well; some toothbrushes have an in-built tongue scrapper. The method to use a traditional curved tongue scraper is as follows:

  • Brush your teeth before cleaning the tongue
  • Stand in front of the mirror and open your mouth wide
  • Position the bevelled edge of the scraper on the farthest point on the tongue as possible
  • The tongue scraper should not trigger gag reflexes
  • Now pull the tongue scraper forward while applying gentle pressure
  • Rinse the scrapers and repeat the process as required
  • Rinse the mouth thoroughly and clean the scraper with soap and water

Things to keep in mind while using a tongue scraper

  • If you develop the gag reflex, try scraping from the middle of the tongue and gently move backward
  • Do not put too much pressure on the scraper as it can cause injury
  • Inspect the tongue scraper before using it; do not use the blunt end to scrape the tongue
  • Replace the tongue scraper when it changes colour

Summary

Tongue scraping is not an alternative to toothbrushing. It is an adjunct to toothbrushing but cannot produce the benefits of toothbrushing. However, it does help get rid of the foul odour caused due to the deposits on the tongue. One must also note that a deposit that is not removed easily by the tongue scraper may be a pathological disease. If there are any signs of bleeding or discomfort during the scrapping process, one must stop immediately. When in doubt, one must always seek professional help.

 

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