How to keep your tongue clean?

A tongue scraper removes odor-causing bacteria more effectively from your tongue than a toothbrush. Tongue scraping is good for your oral health, but scraping your tongue with a spoon isn't very effective.
A tongue scraper removes odor-causing bacteria more effectively from your tongue than a toothbrush. Tongue scraping is good for your oral health, but scraping your tongue with a spoon isn't very effective.

Even if you're a dental and oral hygiene pro, you might not be brushing or scraping your tongue. Is it bad to scrape your tongue? No, scraping is good for your oral health, as it removes bacteria and plaque from your tongue's surface. However, scraping your tongue with a spoon isn't very effective. 

Instead, you should use a tongue scraper. 

A tongue scraper removes odor-causing bacteria more effectively from your tongue than a toothbrush. Plus, it stimulates saliva production, helping with digestion. It also removes the white coating on the surface of the tongue.

The easiest way to clean your tongue is to use a toothbrush. You already brush your teeth twice a day; you can brush your tongue at the same time. 

You can use your toothbrush to brush your tongue. However, a tongue scraper does a better job of removing the bacteria and plaque from your tongue's surface. You can get a tongue scraper from any drug store. Most of them are made of stainless steel, copper, or plastic

You only have to make minor additions to your existing hygiene routine. First, brush your teeth as you usually do. Next, stick out your tongue and run the scraper lightly along your tongue's surface. You can do it once or twice. Finally, scrape from the back to front. 

Make sure you're not applying excessive pressure as it might hurt your tongue. You're probably pressing the scraper down too hard if you feel pain or discomfort. 

After using the scrapper, rinse it under warm water. Finally, swish your mouth to remove the scraped particles. 

Why is it important to scrape your tongue?

While most people don't actively consider it a part of self-care, scraping your tongue is very important. 

Improved taste 

First, it improves your sense of taste. When plaque and bacteria build on your tongue, they can affect your ability to taste things. 

Scraping your tongue removes these bacteria from your tongue, giving you a fresh palette. As a result, you'll have a better sense of taste, especially strongly-flavored foods. 

There is a study that shows tongue scraping twice a day can improve one's sense of taste. Since you remove bacteria and other particles from your tongue, your tastebuds will be able to differentiate between salty, sour, sweet, and bitter more effectively. 

Better overall health 

Scraping your tongue helps improve your overall health. Your oral hygiene has a significant impact on your well-being. When you scrape your tongue, you remove bacteria that could cause cavities or gum inflammation. However, if you ignore your oral hygiene for too long, it can lead to more severe problems, like heart disease and cancer

Fresh breath

You'll also have fresher breath. Bacteria that build up on your tongue create a bad odor. Many people believe that bad breath is only due to not brushing your teeth. However, a bacteria-ridden tongue also leads to bad breath.

A study found that people who used a tongue scraper twice a day for a week had lower levels of Lactobacilli and Mutans streptococci in their mouths. Both of these bacteria are involved in dental decay and bad breath. 

However, keep in mind that scraping is not an alternative to brushing. You still have to brush your teeth, even if you scrape your tongue twice daily. However, one study showed that scraping removed odor-causing bacteria more effectively than brushing. 

Causes of bad breath 

As mentioned above, tongue scraping helps prevent bad breath. However, not scraping your tongue isn't the only reason for bad breath. Halitosis or bad breath may affect you for several reasons. 

Food 

The type of foods you eat can affect your breath. The digestion of all food starts in your mouth. When food particles break down, they may increase bacterial presence on the surface of the tongue. 

Some foods, such as spices, garlic, and onions, also give you bad breath. After digestion, these foods enter your bloodstream and go to your lungs. Thus, they affect your breath. 

Poor dental hygiene 

Your dental hygiene includes brushing, flossing, and rinsing. It helps you get rid of food particles that would otherwise lead to plaque buildup, which could eventually cause tooth decay. Brushing your teeth is the most obvious step in maintaining a healthy smile, but it's also important to scrape your tongue to remove bacterial build-up. 

Dry mouth 

Saliva is vital for fresh breath since it helps remove odor-causing particles. However, a condition called xerostomia could lead to lower saliva production. Since there's not enough saliva to cleanse your mouth, you could have bad breath. Likewise, some other diseases of the salivary glands can cause dry mouth

Infections 

If you have recently had surgery, you may have bad breath due to surgical wounds in the mouth. For example, if you had a tooth extraction or removal procedure, your bad breath may be due to the recovering wound. Similarly, gum diseases, mouth sores, and tooth decay also cause bad breath. 

Medications 

Medications that dry out your mouth can also be the reason behind bad breath. Some medications are broken down by the body to release chemicals that may enter your breath, giving it a foul odor. 

Tobacco products 

If you smoke or use tobacco, it could lead to bad breath. Tobacco users and smokers are also at a higher risk of gum disease, which is a cause of bad breath. 

Preventing bad breath: What else can you do?

Scraping your tongue is a great way to get rid of bad breath or prevent it in the first place. But you can also follow other oral hygiene steps to keep halitosis at bay. 

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. You should also floss to remove any food particles stuck between your teeth. 
  • If you don't clean your dentures, they can quickly become a source of bad breath. Take them out at night. Clean them before you put them in your mouth again the following day. 
  • If you're a smoker, consider quitting. It will reduce bad breath and improve your overall health. 
  • Eat healthy foods that require chewing, leading to more saliva production. For instance, apples and carrots require large amounts of saliva. Chewing on sugar-free gum or candy can also help. 
  • You can also talk to your dentist about low saliva production. They may counsel you about artificial saliva. 
  • Most importantly, go for regular dentist visits. this will ensure that problems, such as dry mouth and gum diseases, are diagnosed and treated before they get worse. 

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Medically Reviewed on 7/6/2022
References
SOURCES:

Baton Rouge General: "Should You Be Tongue Scraping?."

Cleveland Clinic: "Does Tongue Scraping Actually Work, and Should I Be Doing It?."

John Hopkins Medicine: "Halitosis (Bad Breath)."

Journal of Clinical Periodontology: "Impact of tongue cleansers on microbial load and taste."

Journal of Periodontology: "Tongue-Cleaning Methods: A Comparative Clinical Trial Employing a Toothbrush and a Tongue Scraper."

Mayo Clinic: "Bad breath."

Odonto-stomatologie Tropicale: "The effect of tongue scraper on mutans streptococci and lactobacilli in patients with caries and periodontal disease."