The practice of tongue scraping is a highly talked about trend on the web and in social media. Some are making claims that it’s a miracle solution to all sorts of dental problems — but what exactly is tongue scraping, and can it really improve your dental health? Here’s everything you need to know about the trend, and what dentists think about its side effects.
What is Tongue Scraping?
Tongue scraping is a method of cleaning the tongue that some people believe can remove odor-causing bacteria, leaving a fresher, healthier mouth and smile. The theory is that regular scraping of the surface of the tongue removes food particles that have been left behind, as well as bacteria and dead cells. Some of these bacteria are known antagonists that cause bad breath and tooth decay. There are many that believe by practicing tongue scraping they can reduce bad breath, improve the look and feel of the tongue surface and improve taste and sensation.
Can It Improve Your Dental Health?
Is it really effective? Can a simple scraping really do all of these things? A study by the College of Dentistry in New York found that tongue scraping can remove some bacteria found on the tongue and affect breath odor. The American Academy of Periodontology found that tongue scraping was more effective at removing particles from the tongue than cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush.
Should you be adding this extra step to your dental care routine? Let’s see what the dentists have to say about the effectiveness of tongue scraping.
Do Dentists Recommend Tongue Scraping?
While all professionals agree that scraping can never replace tooth brushing as a dental hygiene practice, adding tongue scraping to your cleaning routine could be helpful for some people. Every time you eat or drink you are building back bacteria and particles, so if you’re really concerned about removing particles you would need to scrape your tongue after consuming anything. This kind of diligence isn’t very practical, and not all bacteria is detrimental to your health or going to cause bad breath.
Dentists say that while practicing scraping might not solve your bad breath or be hugely effective in reducing bacteria buildup, it can have many benefits for your dental health, including more attention to hard-to-reach areas and enforcing a regular dental hygiene routine. Even scraping once or twice daily in addition to brushing your teeth could be beneficial.
Scraping your tongue is easy to do, and presents no side effects if done properly, so dentists agree there’s no harm in trying it out. At the very least, you’ll spend a little extra time cleaning your mouth, which can definitely improve your smile!
Is It Right for You?
If you want to try tongue scraping, you’ll need a metal or plastic scraper. Metal scrapers are longer-lasting, while plastic ones are more affordable. Whatever scraper you choose, make sure it doesn’t have sharp edges or places it could scratch your tongue.
Scrape from the back of your tongue toward the front, being careful not to use too much pressure. If starting far back is difficult, you can always start in the middle of your tongue while you get used to tongue scraping. Make sure to clean off the tongue scraper after each pass, and sanitize thoroughly once you’re done.
Once you get the hang of it, keep it up for a few minutes two or three times a day to see if you notice a difference in your breath quality, tongue sensitivity, and dental health. If scraping makes you feel more confident in your smile, then it’s working! If you don’t notice a big difference, or find it too complicated to stick to, focus on maintaining your normal brush and floss routine.
If you’re concerned that bad breath might be an issue, it’s a good idea to talk with your dentist. They might have another solution to the problem, or be able to diagnose what’s causing the issue. Tongue scraping might not be for everyone, but some say it can improve breath odor and lead to a healthier mouth.