Growing up, you were probably taught to brush and floss every day. After all, those are the best ways to remove plaque from your teeth and gums. But did you know that bacteria can build up on your tongue too? This can cause a plethora of problems ranging from bad breath to an increased risk of infection. That’s why you should clean your tongue. Keep reading to learn all about tongue scraping and why and how you should do it.
Should I Scrape My Tongue?
Yes. Although tongue scraping is by no means a replacement for brushing or flossing, adding it to your oral hygiene routine can benefit you in many ways, including:
- Improved sense of taste. Some research suggests that cleaning your tongue twice a day can give you a more refined ability to taste salty, sour, sweet, or bitter flavors.
- Make your tongue look better. Accumulation of debris on your tongue detracts from its naturally pink, smooth appearance.
- Remove bacteria. A 2005 study found that cleaning your tongue twice a day for a week reduced the number of oral bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay.
- Reduce bad breath. While brushing and flossing can do wonders for the quality of your breath, tongue scraping is the best way to remove the offending particles of food and bacteria.
How Do I Scrape My Tongue?
You can pick up a tongue scraper, which resembled an inverted spoon, for cheap from most pharmacies. Then:
- Stand in front of a mirror and stick out your tongue.
- Set the rounded end of the tongue scraper toward the back of your tongue.
- If it makes you gag at first, try placing the scraper in the middle of your tongue. You can gradually move it farther back as you become more comfortable.
- Gently slide the scraper from the back of your tongue to the front.
- After each scrape, use a washcloth to remove debris from the scraper.
- Repeat until you’ve cleaned the entire surface of your tongue.
- Rinse off the scraper and store it in a clean, dry area. It may help to put it next to your toothbrush so that you remember to add it to your routine.
While tongue scraping isn’t necessarily a cure for bad breath on its own, it can vastly improve your oral health. Couple it with brushing and flossing once or twice a day and you should see a noticeable difference in the quality of your breath.
About the Author
Dr. Alan Rauchberg earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Temple University’s dental school. He has attended post-graduate training courses at the Pankey Institute and Dawson Center, two of the country’s most prestigious dental training centers. He is a big believer in preventive care, like tongue scraping, to prevent oral health problems. To learn more about tongue scraping, you can contact Dr. Rauchberg on his website.