The Why, When, How and Where of Tongue Scraping
Do you ever stop and think about what rests on your tongue? No? Maybe it’s time for you to start.
Tongue scraping has become an increasingly popular addition to oral health regimens across the globe. It’s a quick and easy way to remove particles and bacteria from the surface of your tongue — and help with bad breath. It’s no substitute for twice-a-day brushing and daily flossing, but it’s a good extra step in caring for your mouth.
A dental hygienist said it best to the Cleveland Clinic: “Think about it this way — if your carpet is dirty and you scrub it, the dirt’s going to get embedded down in there,” she explains. “But if you scrape it, it’s going to come right off the surface.”
How does tongue-scraping help your overall oral health?
Over time, dead cells, bacteria and food particles can accumulate on your tongue. All of these things can lead to bad breath.
Using a tongue scraper — a metal or plastic tool that does exactly what it says it does — has several oral health benefits, including:
- Helping your sense of taste: Researchers have said that if you scrape your tongue twice a day, your taste buds could be better equipped to differentiate between spicy, salty, sweet and sour.
- Get rid of that white buildup: Sometimes, excessive buildup on your tongue can cause a white coating to appear. White tongue is caused by an overgrowth and swelling of the fingerlike projections (papillae) on your tongue’s surface. Using a tongue scraper can help to eliminate the buildup – and thus the white coating.
- Eliminate bacteria: The two most common bacteria in your mouth that are widely known for causing bad breath and tooth decay are called Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli. If you scrape your tongue twice a day, research has shown that these two types of bacteria will be reduced in your mouth. Good news for people who suffer from bad breath!
How to add tongue-scraping to your oral health regimen
If you’re thinking about trying tongue-scraping for the first time, here’s how to do it effectively:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes, then floss and rinse just like you do every day.
- Next, stick out your tongue and lightly run the scraper across the entire surface once or twice. You should start at the back of your tongue and scrape forward.
- This should not be painful, and it should not damage the tongue in any way. If it does, let up on the pressure.
- Rinse the scraper with warm water in between each scraping. Then, when you’re finished scraping, rinse it again — and then rinse your mouth to wash out all the crud you scraped.
- If your tongue is still white after scraping sessions, or if you’re seeing other discoloration (like black or red spots), you should call your dentist.
Do you have other questions about how to properly care for your teeth, gums and tongue? Call Dr. Chauvin’s office today for an appointment!