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The Why, When, How and Where of Tongue Scraping

I read an article recently in which a patient used a tongue scraper for a month and how it was the best thing she ever did. Tongue hygiene seems to be somewhat underrated in the dental hygiene practice. But the tongue needs just as much care and attention as our teeth and gums. Over time, it can be buried beneath layers of bacteria, fungi, and food residue. All these layers of gunk can inhibit your tastebuds and give your tongue an unnatural color! If your tongue appears to be unnatural in color, then it's time your tongue met a tongue scraper.

So WHAT is a tongue scraper?

A tongue scraper is typically a U-shaped device designed to “scrape” the top layer of scum from your tongue. 

WHY use a tongue scraper?

The build-up of cavity-inducing bacteria, fungi, leftover foods, and other “volatile sulfur compounds” results in serious BO (bad odor). Clearly, there are several reasons why you want to use a tongue scraper:

  • Reduce bad breath: ‘nuff said!
  • Reduce your risk of periodontal disease and cavities: Bad bacteria contribute to plaque and tartar, and ultimately increase the likelihood of developing cavities. Bacteria also contributes to gingivitis (inflammation of gums), which in turn could lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease makes for a heftier bill for treatment. 
  • Make room for good bacteria
  • Prevent heart disease? The debate is still up in the air, but some studies suggest there could be a correlation between gum disease and heart disease.

    HOW does one use a tongue scraper?

    1. Rinse your tongue scraper before and after use.
    2. Apply the tongue scraper to the back of your tongue and drag it forward. Don't press down so hard that you bleed.
    3. Rinse the tongue scraper and repeat step 2. Vary the placement of the scraper-- don't forget the sides of your tongue!
    If you’re recovering from a dental procedure, ask your dentist about the best tongue scraping practices in regards to your specific circumstances. 

      WHERE do I buy one?

      Tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive, and can be found at any local drugstore. Don’t get too caught up in brand and go for any you like. The important part is to start implementing tongue scrapers in your daily dental hygiene. 

      Remove the bacteria, allow food to touch tastebud, encourage the tongue’s natural pink hue to shine through, and use a tongue scraper. If you still have questions regarding tongue scrapers, tongues, and/or dental health, call us at 619-421-2828 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Macatangay.