Your oral health and your overall health share a direct link. Like other parts of your body, your mouth is filled with mostly harmless bacteria. However, since bacteria enter your digestive and respiratory tract through your mouth, certain bacteria in your mouth can give rise to diseases in your body. Without proper oral care, bacteria can find their way to places that can lead to oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease. However, certain oral hygiene habits, such as brushing your teeth regularly, flossing and scratching your tongue, can keep your oral health in check.
Health Shots contacted Dr Sujit Chatterjee from Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai to find out all about tongue scraping for good oral health.
What is Tongue Scraping?
Tongue scraping is a technique of cleaning the surface of your tongue using a tongue scraper or cleaner. It aims to eliminate bacteria, debris, dead cells and food particles that accumulate on the tongue. A tongue scraper is a soft, flexible tool, usually U-shaped, made of plastic or metal.
How to use a tongue scraper?
Just as there’s a right way to brush your teeth, you also need to master the basics of tongue scraping. According to Dr. Chatterjee, there are things you need to be mindful of when it comes to tongue scraping. This involves knowing how to use a tongue scraper correctly.
The right way to scrape your tongue, according to the expert, is to extend your tongue and gently place the scraper on the back of the tongue.
“Press the scraper lightly against the surface of the tongue and slide it forward toward the tip of your tongue,” suggests the expert.
Repeat the scraping motion 3-5 times, covering the entire surface of the tongue.
Rinse your mouth and tongue scraper with water after each scarification.
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Tongue scraping is recommended as a daily practice, preferably in the morning after brushing your teeth.
Tongue scraping complements regular brushing and flossing and improves overall oral hygiene.
Keep the tongue scraper clean and dry after each use to prevent bacterial growth.
If you feel discomfort or irritation, or if bleeding occurs, stop scratching your tongue and seek professional advice.
Benefits of Tongue Scraping for Oral Hygiene
To maintain oral hygiene, we must follow other practices than simple brushing. Let us tell you some of the benefits of tongue scraping.
1. Tongue scraping effectively removes harmful bacteria
Tongue scraping is important for oral hygiene because of its ability to effectively remove harmful bacteria, dead skin cells and food particles that accumulate on the surface of the tongue. These deposits can cause the tongue to become discolored or turn yellow, which is called “tongue paste.” If left unattended, this coating can harbor harmful bacteria, contributing to bad breath (halitosis) and potentially causing oral health problems, says the expert.
2. Scraping the tongue can improve the sense of taste
According to research, scraping your tongue twice a day can improve your sense of taste. Your tongue would be able to differentiate between bitter, sour, salty and sweet sensations.
3. Your tongue is so much better
Accumulation of excessive debris on the tongue can make it look white or yellow. Regular scraping can prevent this buildup of bacteria.
4. Improves Overall Health
By getting rid of your mouth bacteria, you can prevent cavities, gum disease, and other health issues that can start in your mouth.
5. Reduces bad breath
Although tongue scraping cannot replace the benefits of regular brushing, scraping may be more effective than brushing when it comes to eradicating odor-causing bacteria.