Your tongue harbors a lot of germs and bacteria that can cause gum inflammation, cavities, and bad breath. That stuff should be scraped off regularly to avoid those unfortunate side effects. Whether you use a toothbrush or a tongue scraper, this is an important component of teeth brushing that shouldn’t be ignored.

When you get a teeth cleaning in Elmwood twice a year, your hygienist can explain the importance of daily tongue scraping. Until then, let’s talk about tongue scraping and why you should do it.

Tongue Scraping: Defined

Tongue scraping allows you to remove extra particles from the surface of your tongue, including the ones that lead to bad breath. There are tongue scrapers specifically designed for this task that you can purchase. They vary in size but most are small, slightly rounded tools made of plastic or metal.

You can also use your regular toothbrush to remove particles, or buy a toothbrush with a spongy scraper on the back of it. Simply brush or scrape your tongue to remove particles, preferably after brushing your teeth.

It’s important to note that tongue scraping on its own without regular toothbrushing isn’t enough to maintain a healthy mouth. But when used as an adjunct to your regular brushing and flossing routine, it can be quite effective at improving oral health.

Benefits of Tongue Scraping

Debris, bacteria, and dead skin cells build up on your tongue each day, causing foul breath and negatively impact your overall oral health. When you scrape that buildup off daily, you can:

  • Improve your sense of taste. Research shows that using a tongue scraper twice a day can heighten your sense of taste, allowing you to better distinguish between bitter, salty, sweet, and sour sensations.
  • Improve the tongue’s appearance. Buildup of debris can display a white coating on your tongue, which can be unsightly. Daily scraping will remove this.
  • Remove bacteria. One study revealed that tongue scraping twice a day for a week reduced the presence of Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli: two types of bacteria present in the mouth that are notorious for causing dental decay and bad breath.
  • Improve overall health. Removing bacteria helps you prevent gum disease, cavities, and other conditions that affect the mouth. Tongue scraping clear these bacteria, improving sensation and appearance for overall better oral health.
  • Reduce bad breath. While tongue scraping should not replace brushing your teeth, it could be more effective at removing odor-causing bacteria than brushing alone.

Consistency is Key

Yes, tongue scraping has been known to reduce bad breath, but like with anything else, consistency is key. Bacteria can build up very quickly in the mouth, so just because you remove it in the morning, doesn’t mean it will prevent bad breath all day long. Because bacteria build up as you drink and eat throughout the day, you’ll have to brush and scrape after every meal or snack.

Scraping your tongue at the same time as you brush your teeth will set you up for a consistent routine that can prevent long-term buildup associated with severe or chronic bad breath.

If you really want to do the best scraping possible, invest in a tongue scraper specifically designed for this task. One study found that tongue scrapers could remove 30 percent more volatile sulfur compounds on your tongue than using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Of course, cleaning your tongue with a simple toothbrush is better than not doing it at all!

How to Scrape Your Tongue

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to scrape your tongue.

  1. Open your mouth while sticking out your tongue in front of a mirror.
  2. Place the rounded end of the scraper at the back of the tongue, or start at the middle if you are prone to gagging.
  3. Touch the scraper to your tongue gently, slowly pulling it forward toward the tip. Don’t go the opposite way, pushing the scraper from the tip to the back.
  4. Be gentle enough so you don’t hurt your taste buds or break the skin, yet firm enough to get all the excess debris. You can always start off soft, then gradually get firmer depending on how it feels.
  5. After each pass, remove the debris from the scraper using a washcloth or tissue.
  6. Repeat as needed to cover the whole tongue.
  7. Wash the scraper with warm water and soap when done, then dry it and store in a dry, clean area.

Schedule Your Six-Month Cleaning at Ashby Dental in Elmwood

At your next six-month cleaning, your hygienist can let you know more about the importance of tongue scraping when brushing your teeth. Speaking of six-month cleanings, it’s time to make yours! Book your appointment today at (510) 549-0133. We are located at 2507 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, CA, open Mon – Thu 8am to 4pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.