What Is Tongue Scraping and Should You Be Doing It?

You brush, you floss, you may even use a Waterpik. But have you scraped your tongue lately? Your tongue harbors bacteria — most of it good bacteria — but the rest can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. 

Johnny L. Smith, DMD, who brings 30 years of experience to patients in Peoria, Arizona, breaks down the process of tongue scraping.

All about tongue scraping

The goal of tongue scraping is to remove debris and bacteria from the surface of your tongue. Over time, bacteria and skin cells can build up on your tongue and cause bad breath and other dental health issues.

Tongue scraping involves the use of a special, rounded plastic or metal tool that you move across your tongue to remove excess particles. You should start the scraper at the back of your tongue and move it forward to remove bacteria.

Clean the scraper after each pass to remove debris. You should be able to eliminate most of the buildup within one to two passes.

Scraping your tongue should be done in addition to regular toothbrushing. Many people find that scraping their tongues during their morning and evening oral health care routine offers the most benefits. 

Benefits of tongue scraping

In addition to preventing bad breath, tongue scraping has been shown to have several benefits on your overall oral health. Regular tongue scraping can:

Reduce dental decay

Removing bacteria from the surface of your tongue not only fights bad breath, it can also lessen your risk for tooth decay. There are several bacteria types that can prematurely break down the integrity of your teeth, leading to cavities and tooth loss.

Enhance your tongue’s appearance

When you have excess bacteria and other debris on your tongue’s surface, it can change the look of your tongue. Tongue scraping can reduce the buildup of bacteria that makes your tongue look like it’s coated in white.

Boost your taste buds

Daily use of a tongue scraper may help improve your sense of taste. By clearing away bacteria and debris, your taste buds can better differentiate between sweet, salty, sour, and bitter tastes.

Potential downsides of tongue scraping

One of the common downsides of tongue scraping for some people is the risk of triggering your gag reflex. This can be easily resolved by paying attention to how far back in your mouth you place the scraper.

You also need to invest in a high-quality scraper to prevent cuts and other damage to your tongue. Dr. Smith can recommend an economical, effective tongue scraper if you’re unsure what to buy.

If you’re not able to use a tongue scraper because of a sensitive gag reflex or if you forget to pack your scraper when out of town, you can still remove bacteria from your tongue with a toothbrush. The more bacteria you can keep out of your mouth each day, the better your long-term oral health can be.

To learn more about tongue scraping and for all of your oral health care needs, contact Dr. Smith and his team, call 623-972-6137, or book an appointment online

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