If tongue scraping isn’t already a part of your daily morning routine…then keep reading! First things first, a tongue scraper is an oral hygiene tool designed to clean off bacteria, food debris, fungi, toxins, and dead cells from the surface of your tongue. Tongue scraping is a simple 10-second thing you can do that that will improve your overall health, using said tongue scraper (step-by-step instructions with pictures are below!). I highly recommend it while doing my seasonal detoxes, but I also highly recommend doing it every day for continual detoxification of your body.
In Ayurvedic medicine (the Traditional Indian Science of Medicine), tongue cleaning is associated with keeping your teeth healthy and the entire organ of your mouth in good order. This practice has been around since ancient times in India. While you sleep, your body works to detoxify itself, depositing those toxins onto your tongue through the internal excretory channels. Scraping the tongue these toxins, as well as stale bacteria build-up, dead cells, fungi, etc. and often helps prevent (or completely eliminate) bad breath for those who have it.
You might be thinking “I can just brush my tongue with my toothbrush why would I need this tool?” Well, this method just doesn’t cut it. Instead of removing the toxins and bacteria, the toothbrush just moves them around your tongue, or transfers them onto your toothbrush (which is used 2x a day in your mouth)!
If you’re not already convinced, here are 5 reasons to scrape your tongue every single day:
- Improve bad breath Bad breath can have a negative impact on a person’s life, relationships, and self-esteem. Most bad breath comes from the bacteria at the back of the tongue, and clinical studies have shown that tongue scraping significantly reduces and removes oral bacteria from the crevices of all areas the tongue.
- Enhance the flavors of food Removing the build-up from the surface of your tongue will better expose your taste buds, leading to better enjoyment of the flavors of your food. The better we enjoy and savor our food, the better our bodies digest and assimilate, leading to better overall health – according to Ayurvedic medicine. Also note that Ayurveda teaches that blocked taste buds and tongue receptors interfere with our body’s ability to communicate with our brain in certain ways, leading to false cravings.
- Boost your immune system Most of the film on your tongue is toxins excreted from your body. If this isn’t scraped away, you will most likely re-ingest and re-absorb all of these toxins, giving your immune system a big chore!
- Improve dental health This oral hygiene practice promotes general tooth and gum health since it removes the bacteria and toxins responsible for plaque build-up, tooth decay, loss of teeth, gum infections, and gum recession.
- Help your digestive system Proper digestion begins with taste, salivation, and chewing of food. If you don’t remove toxic mucus on the tongue, your taste buds can become blocked. Removing build-up from the surface of your tongue will open up its pores and better expose your taste buds helping your body digest and assimilate food.Scraping also activates saliva production and promotes agni (the body’s digestive fire) to help with digestion throughout the day.
To do it, you’ll need a tongue scraper, like this one. There are a variety of plastic scrapers on the market, but stainless steel ones will longer and their unique “U” shape allows them to go farther back onto your tongue without gagging you as other plastic ones.
Timing makes a big difference too. Tongue scraping should be done first thing in the morning, even before drinking a sip of water. You’ll be shocked at what comes off your tongue after sleeping all night! (think thick, white, and filmy…)
Technique is something you will get a feel for pretty quickly. Here’s how to do it:
- Roll out of bed, walk into your bathroom, and grab your tongue scraper
- Open your mouth and extend your tongue. Hold the rubber handles of the scraper and lower/place the U part as far back on your tongue as is comfortable. Gently press and firmly (yet gently) scrape from the back or base of the tongue all the way to the front, using one long stroke.
- Rinse the scraper and begin again. I like to go once down the middle, once down the left and right sides, then once down the middle again. At that point, your tongue should feel clean and free of its coating. Repeat if necessary.
- Wash the scraper well after each use with hot water and towel dry.
When you first get started scraping your tongue, be extra gentle. Your tongue will get used to it!
If you want even more anti-bacterial action in your mouth, add a drop of essential oil to your toothbrush along with your toothpaste or rinse with a homemade mouthwash of a few drops of essential oil and water. Peppermint and Thieves (a blend from Young Living Essential Oils that contains a variety of antibacterial oils) are both really good essential oil options. They’re very strong in flavor and completely do the trick when it comes to freshening your mouth and killing all sorts of bad bacteria build up.
Happy tongue scraping!