Oral hygiene maintenance requires a well-rounded approach. It starts from toothbrushing twice daily, use of mouthwash, interdental aids like dental floss and brush. One of the most underestimated is the process of tongue scraping, which takes less than 2 minutes but if done appropriately goes a long way in maintaining oral and general health.
It is basically removing unwanted particles from the dorsum of the tongue using a slightly rounded tool, mostly made of metal or plastic. Some scrapers are also made from copper and stainless steel. The utility of tongue scraping dates back to ancient times. It forms a major part of ayurvedic science as tongue scraping has been known to improve digestion and thus overall health. The diagnosis and appearance of the tongue is also the cornerstone for many sciences including Ayurveda as it is believed to be a mirror of a person’s overall health. As a part of Ayurvedic self-care ritual, it is referred to as ‘Jihwa Prakshalana’.
It comprises of bacteria, food and saliva as major components. It acts as a reservoir of bacteria implicated in gum disease and has been linked to plaque deposition on teeth as well. It is a clear indication of toxin accumulation. It leads to bad odor from the mouth which affects a person’s relationships and self-esteem.
The back of the tongue serves as a perfect reservoir for bacteria as it is relatively drier, undisturbed by normal processes of mouth and this is the site from where the tongue scraping begins. Tongue scraping combats the tongue bacteria in the most effective way.
The benefitsof tongue scraping are as follows:
- Increases taste sensation (by opening the pores on the tongue)
- Decreases bad odor from the mouth (by removing toxins, bacteria and other particles)
- Removes coated appearance of tongue (gives a pleasant sensation)
- Improves overall general and oral health (by reducing dental decay and load of bacteria)
- Massages and cleanses deep tissues and organs (by causing stimulation)
How to do tongue scrape
Begin by opening mouth wide open and sticking out your tongue. Start the process by keeping the rounded end of tongue scraper on the back end of the tongue. Next, gently pull the scraper towards the tip of the tongue. Never push the scraper starting from the tip backward as it results in pushing the particles intended to be removed into the throat. One or two gentle full-length scrapings are enough and should take less than 2 minutes. Each time the scraping is done, remove the debris from the scraper using a tissue. Clean the scraper using warm water and keep in a clean place when not in use.
What precautions to be taken while tongue scraping:
The force used to scrape the tongue should be just appropriate. It should neither be too forceful nor too light. Excessive force may lead to injury to the tongue and damage to the taste buds. Very light and inappropriate force may not lead to the removal of any unwanted particles at all. So, a nice balance has to be maintained to move the scraper gently and smoothly to use it in the most effective manner.
Another very common problem patients may face during the use of a tongue scraper is gag reflex (feeling of vomiting when the scraper goes too back towards the throat). In order to avoid this, start scraping in the middle of the tongue gently and then move towards the edges. Although, utmost care needs to be taken to avoid placing the scraper too back on the tongue.
Note: Tongue scraping is adjunctive to maintaining and further enhance oral hygiene, but it can in no way and should never replace toothbrushing as it is the most primary and important method of maintaining oral hygiene.
Conclusion: Tongue scraping is an effective method to clean the tongue. It has excellent benefits not only for dental but overall health as well. If done correctly, it has a multitude of benefits already stated. So, therefore, it is essential to add tongue scraping in the daily oral hygiene regime.
In case you would like to learn about the proper way of scrapping your tongue visit a nearby dental clinic or look for the dentist near me options. A dentist can best guide you with the right way of scrapping your tongue.