Did you know that your oral health can impact your overall health? That’s right, poor oral health can lead to many chronic diseases like:
- Heart disease
But instead of talking about scary things that can happen if you neglect your oral health, let’s explore what you can do to remain happy and healthy! A great way to contribute to your oral health is to use a tongue scraper— explore the top benefits below!
What Is a Tongue Scraper?
A tongue scraper is a small, metal, or plastic tool that helps remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from your tongue. Not only does this help freshen your breath, but it also reduces your risk of developing cavities and other gum diseases.
Tongue scrapers come in different shapes and sizes, and you can find them at most convenience or drug stores. Tongue scraping is meant to be used in tandem with brushing and flossing— not as a replacement. But, it’s a fast way to remove extra, unhelpful particles from your tongue’s surface.
7 Benefits of Using a Tongue Scraper
Tongue scraping has many benefits, especially when used together with teeth brushing. The top seven advantages are:
1) Removes Bacteria
One of the most important benefits of tongue scraping is that it helps remove bacteria from your tongue. Brushing and rinsing alone only remove the outer layer of bacteria, but the cells beneath it still thrive. In fact, a study found that tongue scrapers can remove up to 79% more bacteria than brushing alone! Tongue scrapers remove Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli, which can cause bad breath and dental decay.
2) Better Sense of Taste
Research from 2004 found that using a tongue scraper twice a day can improve your sense of taste! This can help you better distinguish bitter, salty, sweet, and sour tastes.
3) Activates Organs
You can awaken your internal organs by using a tongue scraper. That’s right; eliminating the toxins that accumulated on your tongue overnight can help the rest of your body get started for the day.
4) Remove Excess Debris
You may notice that excess debris builds up on your tongue sometimes and takes a white, coated appearance. Daily tongue scraping can help remove this coating and keep it away for good.
5) Better Digestion
The process of digesting your food begins in your mouth. The enzymes in your saliva help break down your food for easy digestion. Tongue scraping helps activate those enzymes for better digestion.
6) Removes Bad Breath
One of the primary reasons people use tongue scrapers is to help with bad breath. By removing the bacteria that cause bad breath, you can kiss your morning dragon breath goodbye! Just keep in mind that it’s best to use a scraper twice a day because scraping in the morning won’t keep bad breath at bay for the entire day.
7) Boosts Overall Health
Your tongue is home to many different kinds of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are good for you, and some are bad. By using a tongue scraper, you can remove the harmful bacteria and help boost your immunity. It will also help prevent cavities, gum disease, and other issues.
How to Use a Tongue Scraper
Most tongue scrapers have a slightly rounded shape and look like an inverted spoon (you can even use a clean spoon as a tongue scraper if you’re in a pinch!). You can choose one made from:
- Copper, or
- Stainless steel
To properly use a tongue scraper, follow these steps:
- Open your mouth in front of a mirror and stick out your tongue.
- Gently place the rounded end of the scraper at the back of your tongue.
- Start at the middle if you’re worried about triggering your gag reflex. You can go farther back as you get used to it.
- Gently and slowly pull the scraper forward towards the tip of your tongue. Never push it backward, but always start at the back and work your way to the front.
- Use a washcloth or tissue to wipe the scraper clean after each scrape.
- Repeat until you’ve covered the entire surface. Usually, one or two scrapes in an area are enough.
- Wash the tongue scraper with soap and warm water, dry it, and store it in a clean area.
The entire process usually takes less than two minutes, making it easy to add to any routine!
What Bad Breath Can Be a Symptom Of
Bad breath is the primary reason most people use tongue scrapers. But bad breath isn’t just caused by eating too many onions and garlic. Many different factors can cause bad breath, including:
- Poor overall oral health
- Drinking a lot of coffee
- High-sugar diets
- Low-carb or high-protein diets
- Alcohol consumption
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Poor digestion/acid reflux
- Certain prescription medications
- Dry mouth
- Postnasal drip
- Tonsil infections
- Liver or kidney issues
- Certain blood disorders
As you can see from this list, some causes of bad breath are circumstantial and will go away after a short period of time (ie, eating a certain type of food). But, some issues are more serious. If you’re experiencing chronic bad breath that even a tongue scraper can’t help, be sure to visit a doctor because there could be a larger problem underneath the surface.
Best Brands Tongue Scrapers You Can Buy
There is a whole slew of tongue scrapers on the market in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and materials. It can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Your dentist will happily provide advice on the types of tongue scrapers they recommend. But if you don’t want to wait until your next appointment to get started, you can try out one of the products from this list:
- Great Overall Clean: Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner
- Best Scraper and Brush Combo: GUM Dual Action Tongue Cleaner
- Best for a Budget: Basic Concepts Tongue Scraper
- Tackles Bad Breath: Orabrush Tongue Cleaner
- Great for Kids: 55Dental Kids Tongue Cleaner
Are There Any Side Effects?
Tongue scraping is generally a very safe practice to adopt. However, the biggest concern that many people have is triggering their gag reflex. If you use the scraper too far back on your tongue and have a sensitive gag reflex, it could cause you to vomit. Which no one wants.
To avoid gagging or vomiting, don’t place the scraper too far back on your tongue. Start in the middle or anywhere that feels most comfortable.
You should also be mindful not to accidentally cut your tongue’s surface with the scraper. Simply keep your eye on your scraper before each use to ensure it doesn’t have any rough or uneven edges.
Also, don’t apply too much hard pressure. Remain gentle enough so that you don’t harm your taste buds or cut your skin, but still use enough pressure to scrape off excess debris from your tongue. It’s always best to start more slowly and gently than you may need in order to get a feel for the practice.
Other Tips for Improving Oral Health
Tongue scraping is a great addition to your oral health routine, but it won’t keep your mouth healthy by itself. Taking a well-rounded approach to your dental health is the best way to stay healthy. Maintain and improve your dental health by:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride-based toothpaste
- Rinse with mouthwash once a day
- Brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time
- Floss or use a water flosser at least once a day to remove debris
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco
- Limit how much sugar and carbonated drinks you consume
- Visit the dentist for cleanings every 6 months
Take Your Dental Health Into Your Own Hands
Living a healthy life comes in many different facets— including dental health! Using a tongue scraper each day is one way you can improve your oral health when combined with regular brushing. And when it’s time for those twice-a-year dental check-ups, you need a dentist that makes you feel comfortable and supports your health.
Here at Wayzata Dental, we strive to provide pain-free dentistry with the help of innovative laser dentistry practices. Whether you need a regular cleaning or a cavity filling, we’re here to set your health up for success.
Reach out today to schedule an appointment!