Germs and bacteria love to set up shop in your mouth. However, when left to proliferate, they can cause gum inflammation, cavities, and bad breath. To avoid those unfortunate side effects, you should scrape that stuff off regularly. You can do this with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper, but either way, this is an essential component of teeth brushing that shouldn’t be ignored.

When you receive a teeth cleaning in Piedmont twice a year, your hygienist will explain how important it is to scrape your tongue daily. Here are some tips to keep in mind about tongue scraping.

What’s Tongue Scraping?

Tongue scraping is a way to remove extra particles from the surface of your tongue, including and especially the ones that lead to bad breath. You can purchase tongue scrapers that are specifically designed for this task. Their size and type will vary, but they are basically small, slightly rounded tools made of plastic or metal.

If you choose, you can simply use your regular toothbrush to remove particles, either using the bristles themselves or the spongy scraper on the back. To remove particles, just brush or scrape your tongue right after brushing your teeth.

While tongue scraping on its own without regular toothbrushing won’t be sufficient in maintaining a healthy mouth, it can definitely be used as a complement to your regular brushing and flossing routine. As a result, it can be very effective at improving oral health.

How-to Guide: Scraping Your Tongue

Not sure how to go about it? It’s simple.

  1. Stick your tongue out in front of a mirror.
  2. Place the rounded end of the scraper at the back of the tongue.
  3. If you tend to gag, start at the middle.
  4. Touch the scraper to your tongue gently, then slowly pull it forward toward the tip. Always go forward, not backward, as this will push the debris further into your mouth.
  5. Be gentle so you don’t damage your taste buds or break the skin; however, be firm enough to get off all the excess debris. A good rule of thumb is to start off soft, then gradually get firmer.
  6. After each pass, use a washcloth or tissue to remove the debris from the scraper.
  7. Repeat as needed so that you eventually cover the whole tongue.
  8. Wash the scraper with warm water and soap when done.
  9. Dry it and store in a dry, clean area.

Advantages of Tongue Scraping

There are many benefits that come with tongue scraping, especially when done in conjunction with toothbrushing and flossing. That’s because debris, bacteria, and dead skin cells build up on your tongue each day and should be removed, or else they can cause foul breath and negatively impact your overall oral health. Scraping this buildup daily will:

  • Reduce bad breath. Tongue scraping should not replace brushing your teeth, but if you add it to your routine, it will be more effective at removing odor-causing bacteria than brushing alone.
  • Improve your sense of taste. Research has revealed that using a tongue scraper twice a day will allow you to better distinguish between bitter, salty, sweet, and sour sensations, thereby heightening your sense of taste.
  • Remove bacteria. One study shows tongue scraping twice daily for one week reduces the presence of Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli. These are two types of bacteria found in the mouth that may bring on dental decay and bad breath.
  • Improve the tongue’s appearance. Daily scraping will remove the buildup of debris that can display an ugly white coating on your tongue.
  • Improve overall health. You can prevent gum disease, cavities, and other conditions that affect the mouth when you regularly remove bacteria. Not only does scraping clear these bacteria, it improves sensation and appearance for overall better oral health.

Having a Consistent Routine

Consistency, like anything else, is key to reducing bad breath. That’s because bacteria can build up very quickly in the mouth. Just because you scrape it off in the morning doesn’t mean you will have fresh breath all day long. Do it again at night or anytime you eat or drink, as bacteria build up as you consume food and beverages throughout the day.

Scraping your tongue when brushing your teeth will ensure a more consistent routine that can prevent long-term buildup associated with severe or chronic bad breath.

For the best scraping possible, buy a tongue scraper specifically designed for this task. One study found that tongue scrapers are able to remove 30 percent more volatile sulfur compounds on your tongue than the sole use of a toothbrush with soft bristles. Of course, if you don’t want to make this investment, get peace of mind knowing that cleaning your tongue with a simple toothbrush is better than not doing it at all.

Schedule Your Six-Month Cleaning at Piedmont Oaks Dental

At your next six-month cleaning, ask your hygienist about the importance of tongue scraping when brushing and flossing your teeth. Speaking of six-month cleanings, it’s time to make yours now. Please book your appointment with us today at (510) 654-6523. We are located at 1345 Grand Ave. Suite 103 in Piedmont, CA and our hours are Mon – Thu 8am to 5pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.