When it comes to oral hygiene, we like to think we know the drill. We brush, we floss, and swirl the mouthwash round for added zing, but. should we also be adding a good tongue scraping to our daily routine?
Some experts think so.
Tongue Scraping or Jihwa Prakshalana, the Ayurvedic self-care ritual known as tongue scraping, is an an oral hygiene practice that removes bacteria, food debris, toxins, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue.
Brushing your tongue daily can not only improve your oral health, but also your overall health in some pretty surprising ways.
“The Ayurvedic ritual of tongue scraping is one of the most powerful tools you can add to your daily wellness routine,” explains Dr Reena Wadia, founder of gum disease practice RW Perio.
“There is also now recent scientific evidence backing up the importance of tongue cleaning.
“One of the key benefits is that it removes the tongue coating that builds up over time. This is super important as a tongue coating is one of the most common reasons for bad breath."
Halitosis aside, here’s some other, pretty convincing reasons brushing that tongue of yours could be worth it.
Benefits of brushing or scraping your tongue
It gets rid of bad breath
According to Dr Wadia on of the main reasons to add tongue brushing to your daily routine is to rid your mouth of the nasty bacteria that causes halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath.
“The two biggest causes of oral malodour include tongue coating and gum disease,” explains Dr Wadia.
“Tongue cleaning has an effect in reducing oral malodour caused by tongue coating.”
Read more: Have we been brushing our teeth all wrong?
If left alone, the bacteria on your tongue can transfer to your teeth, which pretty much renders the brushing you did completely pointless.
So do yourself, and those close to you, a favour by scraping all that grimness off your tongue. Your breath will thank you for it.
It boosts your immunity
Believe it or not our tongues form part of the first line of defence in our immune systems. Scraping your tongue not only helps prevent toxins from being reabsorbed into your body, it also boosts overall immune function.
“The tongue is made up of lots of crypts, cracks and irregular surfaces so is an ideal site for the growth of bugs/bacteria,” explains Dr Wadia.
“These bacteria can produce things which taste and smell foul. The tongue is like a carpet, it needs to be cleaned regularly!”
It improves your sense of taste
Research suggests that using a tongue scraper twice daily can improve your sense of taste. That’s because without removing the mucus on your tongue, your taste buds can become blocked making it difficult to recognise the taste of food.
Removing build-up from the surface of your tongue can open up the tongue’s pores, helping to expose your taste buds.
“Your tongue may be able to better distinguish between bitter, sweet, salty, and sour sensations,” Dr Wadia adds.
It makes your tongue look better
According to Dr Wadia buildup of excess debris can cause your tongue to take on a white, coated appearance.
“Daily scraping can help remove this coating and prevent it from returning,” she says.
It helps with overall oral health
Not only does giving your tongue a good scraping help with your general tooth and gum health, it also helps to remove bacteria and toxins from the mouth which could help prevent oral health problems such as plaque build-up, tooth decay, loss of teeth, gum infections, and gum recession.
It can help with digestive health
Without scraping your tongue to remove bacteria it can linger in the mouth and travel down the throat to your gut. And no one needs those kind of nasties in their gut. By scraping your tongue you’ll not only help remove that bacteria, you’ll also kickstart saliva production and promote agni (the body’s digestive fire) which can help improve digestion.
How to use a tongue scraper
A tongue scraper is a long, thin, flat piece of metal that is bent in a ‘U’ shape.
Dr Wadia has provided some top tips to get you started on our tongue scraping routine.
Open your mouth and stick our your tongue as far as you are able to. This helps increase access to the tongue and ease of scraping. Avoid pointing your tongue as this decreases surface area and makes scraping less effective
Grab the scraper and give it a rinse
Holding the handle of the tongue scraper, place it on the back part of your tongue, then begin scraping.
Apply firm pressure to the tongue scraper and in one slow smooth motion, pull the scraper from the back of your tongue to the front. The edge of the scraper will remove any coating or residue.
A maximum number of four to eight movements should be enough for the day
Rinse the scraper after each stroke and clean it after use. This tongue scraper can be kept long term and should be periodically disinfected using boiling water.
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