Dental hygiene is a major part of our overall health. If we don’t properly care for our oral cavity, a lot of other health complications such as respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease may occur. The consequences of bad oral hygiene are numerous. They include decayed teeth, gum infections and bleeding gums, bacterial infections, tooth fractures, damaged filling and so on. If not cared for properly, all of these can cause toothache, swelling, fever, headache, and a foul taste in the mouth. But we usually overlook a nasty follower of bad oral hygiene- bad breath. Luckily this type of bad breath can be solved by visiting the dentist, but what if the bad breath persists?
Have you ever talked to someone and noticed that he or she has horrible breath? Then you start to wonder whether your breath smells bad. But don’t worry, everyone gets bad breath sometimes. Whether if it’s from the coffee you drank this morning or the spicy food you ate for dinner, bad breath is sometimes inevitable. But you can’t go around smelling like you ate from the dumpster, can you? After trying numerous mouth fresheners, mints, fixing every decayed tooth and brushing teeth and flossing two to three times a day, you still feel like you can’t get rid of the bad breath. It’s because most of the people usually forget about one important thing in their oral hygiene- tongue scraping.
1. What is tongue scraping and why is it important?
Every six months you go to the dentist for a regular check-up. He claims your teeth are perfectly healthy, your gums are fine and your dental hygiene is spot on. However, you can’t help but notice a foul taste and bad smell coming from your mouth. Even though you’re a teeth-brushing champion, at least that’s what your dentist says, you just can’t seem to get rid of the bad breath.
That’s because you constantly miss doing one more thing in your oral hygiene routine that helps keep your mouth healthy and fresh. Your tongue. The strongest muscle in your body you’re using for chewing, swallowing and talking. Every tongue has a unique print, like a fingerprint. It’s covered in papillae which are little bumps that allow you to feel the textures and taste in your mouth.
A tongue can be a litter of bacteria in your mouth. While most of the bacteria in your mouth are “good” because they stimulate a healthy environment, “bad” bacteria can cause tooth decay, gum infections, and notorious bad breath. So that’s why you need tongue scraping to keep the bad bacteria away.
Tongue scraping is a process of cleaning your tongue form bacteria, dead cells and food decoy accumulated during the day or night, or after the meal. By including tongue scraping in your daily dental hygiene routine, you’re preventing these unwanted bacteria to multiply and cause trouble and disaster in your oral cavity.
2. Brushing vs scraping- what is better?
Sometimes, after you’ve finished your meal, you’ve probably noticed that you have a white coat on your tongue. Alongside that comes the bad breath. Simply taking a piece of gum or using mouthwash won’t make the bad smell go away. Even after thoroughly brushing your teeth, that awful food aftertaste is still there. Besides avoiding the food that causes bad breath, such as garlic, coffee and alcohol, you need to clean your tongue to get rid of the food debris.
The first thing that comes to your mind when you see “cleaning tongue” is probably brushing it with a toothbrush. So, if you think that the key to having a clean tongue and healthy mouth is gently brushing your tongue with toothbrush and toothpaste. And you’re not wrong, however, you’re not right either. As many people do it, you see no problem with brushing your tongue.
So, the first thing you need to do is add brushing to your daily mouth hygiene. You shouldn’t have a problem with adding this step to your oral hygiene routine as you already brush your teeth at least twice a day. However, as previously stated, that is not enough. Let’s put it this way: brushing your tongue is okay, way better than not cleaning it at all. But let’s make an analogy, if you scrub your dirty carpet using only a brush, the dirt is going to sink deeper, however, if you scrape the carpet, that dirt will come right off the surface.
The same thing can be applied when cleaning your tongue. So, brushing your tongue is good, but it only ostensibly removes the bacteria and doesn’t get rid of the bad breath, whereas, tongue scraping is a way better solution as it does a better job removing bacteria and plaque from the tongue’s surface. Furthermore, it reduces the bad smell coming from your mouth caused by the thick, white coat on your tongue.
3. How to clean your tongue?
As we previously acknowledged, scraping your tongue is way better than brushing it. But we need to introduce the “art of scraping” to our daily routines. Sometimes adding new habits to the routine is hard. But if you’re determined about getting rid of the bad breath, you must persist with scraping your tongue.
Believe it or not, you can make mistakes while scraping your tongue. If you want to have spot-on dental hygiene, you should combine brushing your teeth with flossing and scraping. For fresh breath and healthy teeth, brush your teeth two to maximum three times a day, in the morning, after lunch or coffee and before heading to bed. Brushing your teeth in the morning is important because bad bacteria multiply in your mouth overnight. You should brush your teeth before going to sleep to remove food debris, and people brush their teeth after lunch or coffee mainly to get rid of the bad breath. These habits are great, but not enough.
If you want to have a healthy oral cavity, with healthy teeth and gum, you should also scrape your tongue besides brushing your teeth and flossing. To include this in your daily routine, brush your teeth, floss and rinse your mouth as you’d normally do. To scrape your tongue properly, stick it out and allow it to be heavy and loose by relaxing it. Take your scraper, and using only light pressure, scrape it back to forth a couple of times. Remember to wash your scraper with warm water after each round and thoroughly when you finish. Rinse your mouth with water once you’ve finished your oral hygiene routine. The last step is not necessary, but it leaves your mouth feeling extra fresh and clean.
Scraping your tongue should be a completely painless process. In case your tongue hurts when you’re scraping, try using lighter pressure. If the pain persists, try using one of the natural remedies for a sore tongue like aloe vera or chamomile. If you notice any changes on your tongue and if the pain continues, consult your dentist immediately.
4. Reasons to scrap your tongue
As we can see, tongue scraping has many benefits. When used regularly, a tongue scraper can improve your oral health by a mile. It removes the thick white coat from your tongue that causes problems related to dental hygiene. Furthermore, it removes bad bacteria from our mouths. And last, but not least, it gets rid of the bad breath everyone hates. You no longer have to waste huge amounts of money on mouth fresheners and minty gums. Still not convinced that tongue scrapers are the greatest thing ever? Then read further.
Did you know that scraping your tongue enhances the flavour of the food you eat? Tongue scraping is a process that cleans your taste buds from the gunk that’s been building up on your tongue during the day, and by doing so it enhances the flavours you taste. When you have that awful thick coat in your tongue, your papillae aren’t fully exposed to the food you eat. This means that you can’t properly taste the amazing flavours of your food. Imagine trying to eat ice cream, but all you taste is the fish you had for lunch. Horrible!
Believe it or not, poor oral hygiene is linked to the diseases related to the cardiovascular system. Besides that, it has its links to diabetes and even infertility. The next time you think you have great oral hygiene, ask yourself when was the last time you scraped your tongue. If you can’t remember, it might be the right time to head to the bathroom, and give your tongue a proper scrape. If you skip tongue scraping it’s a huge surface of your mouth that goes uncleaned, so no wonder it causes numerous diseases.
Are you falling ill easily? Do you perceive your immune system as weak, even if you eat healthy food and take care of your body? The reason behind that might be your tongue. Bad bacteria and toxins are accumulating on your tongue over the night. By scraping your tongue you’re preventing those toxins to get reabsorbed in your body. It’s essential especially when you’re sick. A lot of gunk and ooze from sneezing, coughing and medicine can build up on your tongue causing horrible smell and sickness to last longer.
5. What kind of tongue scraper is the best?
As you might have concluded, a tongue scraper is a tool that helps you clean your tongue. Tongue scrapers come in various sizes and shapes, and they can be made out of different materials such as copper or metal steel, but the most popular ones are made out of plastic. You can also find disposable and eco-friendlier options, tongue scrapers for kids and even for those with sensitive tongues. They also vary in price.
The best tongue scraper for you depends on your preferences. Both metal and plastic are very easy to clean and use. The main difference is that you need both hands to use metal tongue scrapers. In addition to that, metal tongue scrapers are a bit more expensive, but that doesn’t mean that they are better. Consider getting cheaper but high-quality tongue scraper to fight that bad breath. Besides being cheaper and easier to use than the metal scraper, plastic tongue scrapers are also gentler on the tongue as they are designed with two arches that provide comfort while scraping. Clean your tongue elegantly with non-slip handles that have a specially moulded contour. Moulded contours are essential to reduce gagging reflex and tongue sensitivity which allows you to access to the back of your tongue without feeling sick.
6. Is there anything a tongue scraper can’t do?
If you’ve decided to introduce tongue scraping in your routine, you must know that this process is not omnipotent. You have to use your tongue scrapers regularly if you want to see results. Keep in mind that all the benefits won’t show over the night.
The common misconception about tongue scraping is that it provides extended benefits regarding the bad breath. Even though this device can help minimise bad breath, you need to be consistent. You can’t expect to have fresh breath if you’ve only scraped your tongue in the morning. Bacteria and food debris accumulate during the day, so if you want your breath to stay fresh, you must do your oral hygiene routine after every meal.
Furthermore, tongue scraping does not eliminate cardiovascular disease or diabetes. It only reduces the risk of getting such disease by keeping your oral cavity healthy. And last but not least, scraping your tongue does not fix your teeth or whitens them. If you want to have healthy teeth visit your dentist regularly and eat foods that whiten your teeth, because scraping your tongue only minimises the chance that bacteria will ruin your teeth. So, if you have any health-related problem seek medical help as tongue scraping is not a medicine.
Oral hygiene is very important and it’s a foundation of our health. Therefore, bad breath coming from your mouth can be almost eliminated if you’re doing your dental hygiene routine properly. Combining brushing teeth and flossing with scraping your tongue is a winning combination for fresh breath. But keep in mind that consistency is key.