Does tongue scraping have health benefits?

Tongue scraping is an oral hygiene practice that brings many health benefits. Here we collect its main advantages. Keep reading!

Last update: 20 March, 2022

Oral hygiene is important to maintain oral health and prevent diseases in the mouth and other parts of the body. But did you know that including tongue scraping in your oral care routine brings you more benefits?

The tongue is a mobile muscular organ, covered with small bumps called papillae. Several functions of the mouth depend on this structure, such as speaking, chewing, swallowing and perceiving the taste, texture and temperature of food.

Oral bacteria, food debris, and dead cells accumulate on the tongue surface. When these deposits persist without being removed, bad breath problems, loss of taste and increased risk of caries and periodontitis may appear. In addition, the tongue takes on an unhygienic appearance. How does tongue scraping help?

What is tongue scraping?

Tongue scraping involves rubbing the surface of this organ with a small, rounded, toothed tool created for that purpose. It can be made of plastic or metal. The latter is more durable, but can be a bit more expensive.

For their part, the plastic ones are cheaper, but they need to be replaced more frequently. The choice of one or the other depends on personal preferences. In any case, It is wrong to think that cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush is as effective as with a scraper.

A 2004 study compared both methods. While both procedures remove the surface coating, scraping is more efficient at removing volatile sulfur compounds. Still, if using a scraper isn’t an option, it’s better to brush your tongue than not.

The tongue scraper can be made of plastic or metal. The plastic ones should be changed periodically.

Benefits of tongue scraping

As we already mentioned, bacteria, debris and dead cells can accumulate on the tongue. Over time, this can cause bad breath and dental health problems. In this sense, tongue scraping is quite beneficial. What are its main effects? Let’s see.

Promotes the sense of taste

One of the benefits of tongue scraping is the improvement in taste perception. A clean organ can better distinguish between sweet, salty, bitter and acid sensations. A study published in Journal of Clinical Periodontology suggests using the tongue scraper twice a day to optimize your sense of taste.

Improves the appearance of the tongue

The accumulation of waste on the tongue generates a whitish appearance that many perceive as unhygienic. With the daily scraping of the tongue it is possible to remove this coating and prevent further formation.

The superficial portion of the lingual mucosa is covered and protected by a layer of keratin. The production of this substance is kept in balance by being eliminated when we swallow or eat foods with a certain texture.

However, on some occasions this balance is broken and the lingual papillae are covered by a greater layer of keratin. Even, they can look like hairs on the tongue and give rise to a hairy tongue.

In relation to this, it should be noted that the use of the scraper contributes to the balance of keratin production. Thus, the tongue is kept clean and with its normal pink appearance.

Eliminate bacteria

Bacteria in the mouth—in adequate amounts— They help maintain the balance of the natural oral flora. Good hygiene contributes to the control of this microbiome so that it fulfills its role without inconvenience, since its alteration can lead to diseases.

The tongue scraper gently removes accumulated bacteria and their source of nutrition. Therefore, another of its benefits is to maintain the hygiene of this area. According to a study shared in Odontostomatol Trop, This instrument helped reduce the presence of pathogenic microorganisms in the mouth.

In particular, showed effectiveness against Streptococcus mutans and lactobacillus bacteria in the mouth. These germs are the main responsible for dental cavities and bad breath.

Improves overall health

Removing bacteria from the mouth is key to preventing cavities, gingivitis, periodontal disease and other problems that affect the mouth. Tongue scraping is part of the hygiene practices that eliminate harmful germs.

Properly caring for oral hygiene translates into less chance of suffering from oral pathologies. On the way, Helps increase the feeling of general well-being and quality of life. And it is that the mouth plays a fundamental role in daily life. Therefore, it is important that you remain healthy.

In fact, healthy oral health is associated with a lower risk of systemic pathologies, such as the following:

  • Heart diseases.
  • Diabetes.
  • Cancer.

Helps reduce bad breath

Halitosis is a condition that It negatively impacts people’s daily lives. Relationships and self-esteem are affected by the presence of prolonged bad breath.

Most cases are caused inside the oral cavity, by bacteria present in the mouth and their metabolic products. The elimination of germs and debris accumulated on the tongue helps to solve part of the problem.

Although tongue scraping provides benefits when seeking fresh breath, this measure alone is not enough. The combination with tooth brushing and the use of mouthwashes is necessary to treat the bad smell.

Ayurvedic Perspective on Tongue Cleaning

Ayurvedic medicine highlights the practice of tongue scraping as an important behavior in the oral hygiene routine. In addition to considering the advantages we already mentioned, this perspective adds a few other benefits to tongue scraping.

Ayurvedic belief holds that the tongue has a direct connection with some of the vital organs of the bodyas the following:

  • Heart.
  • Liver.
  • Lungs,.
  • Kidneys.
  • Spleen.
  • Stomach.

By using a tongue scraper, toxins are removed from its surface. Along the way, the associated organs and deep tissues are stimulated, massaged and cleaned.

On the other hand, this perspective considers that the tongue reflects the state of health and well-being of the body. Because of this, their inspection is considered a diagnostic method. To make it easier, the use of the scraper allows you to clean the surface.

Regarding the improvement in taste perception, Ayurveda adds that better sensory reception helps to eat less. It also avoids the need to add sugar, salt and other additives associated with health problems.

How to perform a correct scraping of the tongue?

Once you have brushed your teeth, it is time to sanitize your tongue. As we already mentioned, to perform a tongue scraping that provides health benefits It will be necessary to use a tongue scraper. These are the steps to follow:

  1. Stand in front of the mirror, open your mouth and stick out your tongue.
  2. Place the rounded end of the scraper on the back of the tongue without exerting too much pressure. If there is a gag reflex, you can start little by little, from a more anterior area, until the body gets used to cleaning the area.
  3. Slowly and gently pull the scraper forward, towards the tip of the tongue. The movements are always from back to front, never in the opposite direction.
  4. Repeat this action until the entire lingual surface has been scraped. After each scraping, scraper residue should be removed with a towel or tissue paper.
  5. Finally, the scraper must be washed with warm water and soap. You also have to dry it and store it in a dry and clean area.

The process can be repeated several times a day, according to individual needs. It usually takes about 2 minutes.

Note: If stains, raised lesions or other alterations are observed on the lingual surface during the process, it will be necessary to consult the dentist. Many times cleaning allows detecting pathologies that were not visible due to lack of cleaning.

Tongue scraping alone is not enough for optimal dental hygiene. Therefore, it must be complemented with other habits such as brushing and the use of rinses.

The importance of comprehensive oral care

As we told you, practicing tongue scraping brings multiple benefits to oral health. But this is not all. This It must be combined with other care that guarantees the care of all oral structures.

So, pay attention to tooth brushing. Sanitizing teeth and gums for two minutes, at least twice a day, helps to take care of oral health. A soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste are ideal for this task.

The use of dental floss is also essential, since It allows to eliminate the bacterial plaque that accumulates between the teeth. In the same way, it is convenient to finish the entire hygiene process with a special rinse or mouthwash.

Among other things, it is essential to improve your diet and avoid foods that affect dental health, such as sugars, acids and carbonated drinks. Of course, you also have to avoid the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

A final recommendation is regular visits to the dentist. Bi-annual consultations and cleanings allow to control the state of the mouth and treat any problems early. With all this, your mouth will be healthy and you will be able to use it without any problem.

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