Do Tongue Scrapers Work? A Dentist Explains

Yes, tongue scrapers work to remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from the surface of our tongues. This process can help reduce bad breath, improve taste perception, and enhance overall oral hygiene.

Tongue scraping is an effective practice backed up by research (which we'll get into later!). In fact, many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of tongue scraping in reducing bad breath and the amount of harmful bacteria in our mouths.

However, it's important to note that the effectiveness of tongue scrapers may vary depending on factors such as your oral hygiene habits and how frequently you tongue scrape.

In this article, I'll explain everything you need to know about whether tongue scrapers are effective and how to use them properly.

So, what's a tongue scraper?

A man holding tongue scraper

tongue scraper is a small, handheld tool designed to remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from the surface of your tongue. It typically consists of a thin, curved metal or plastic head with a textured surface and a handle for easy grip.

Tongue scrapers come in various shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose of improving oral hygiene by cleaning your tongue and removing tongue coating.

Overall, using a tongue scraper is a simple and effective way to reduce bad breath, reduce bacteria buildup, and promote overall oral health.

What does the research on tongue scraping say?

Research on using a tongue scraper suggests that it can be an effective method for reducing oral bacteria, improving bad breath, and promoting overall oral health.

Studies have shown that tongue scraping can significantly reduce the levels of harmful bacteria, debris, and volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) on the tongue surface, which are major contributors to bad breath.

Additionally, tongue scraping has been associated with a decrease in plaque formation and may help manage oral diseases such as gum disease and dental caries.

Interestingly, research also suggests that tongue scraping can even improve your sense of taste. This is likely because by removing bacteria and food debris from your tongue's surface, tongue scraping creates a cleaner oral environment.

What are the benefits of tongue scrapers?

A woman using tongue scraper

Metal tongue scrapers offer several benefits for our oral health. Let's walk through some of the most important ones now.

Reduces Bad Breath

Tongue scraping is an effective method for reducing bad breath by removing bacteria, food particles, and debris that accumulate on our tongues throughout the day. These impurities can harbor odor-causing compounds and contribute to halitosis.

By regularly scraping your tongue, you can significantly reduce the presence of these compounds, leading to fresher breath. In addition to scraping your tongue, you can also consider using herbal mouthwash to freshen your breath.

Improves Taste

Improving taste perception is another key benefit of tongue scraping. Over time, a buildup of bacteria and debris on the tongue can dull taste buds and diminish your ability to fully experience flavors. By removing this buildup, tongue scraping restores the sensitivity of our taste buds, allowing for a more enjoyable eating experience.

Enhances Your Oral Hygiene Routine

A woman smiling in the mirror

Tongue scraping is an ideal step to include in your daily oral hygiene routine as it removes bacteria from your tongue before flossing and brushing.

Since tongue scraping isn't enough to prevent tooth decay and remove plaque from along the gumline, be sure to brush your teeth with toothpaste tablets twice a day, use expandable floss daily, and use alcohol free mouthwash as needed.

Freshens Breath

Tongue scraping not only reduces bad breath but also freshens yourbreath by eliminating odor-causing bacteria and debris from the surface of your tongue. This process removes the source of foul odors in the mouth, resulting in a noticeably fresher and cleaner breath.

May Decrease Risk of Periodontal Disease

A woman experiencing gum disease

Because halitosis is correlated with periodontal disease, regularly tongue scraping may reduce your risk of periodontal disease by removing bacteria and debris that can contribute to gum inflammation and infection.

By maintaining a healthier oral microbiome and reducing plaque and tartar buildup, tongue scraping supports gum health and helps prevent the progression of periodontal disease. While further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between tongue scraping and periodontal health, this practice shows promising potential as a preventive measure against gum disease.

How to do Tongue Scraping Properly

A man using tongue scraper

To use a tongue scraper effectively, follow these simple steps:

  1. Prepare the Tongue Scraper: Before brushing your teeth, hold the tongue scraper with both hands, ensuring that the scraping edges are facing downward and away from your tongue.

  2. Position the Scraper: Extend your tongue out of your mouth as far as comfortably possible. Place the rounded edge of the scraper at the back of your tongue, near your throat, ensuring that it covers as much surface area as possible.

  3. Scrape Your Entire Tongue: With gentle pressure, drag the scraper forward along the surface of your tongue toward the tip. Avoid pressing too hard to prevent irritation or discomfort. Repeat this scraping motion several times, covering the entire surface of the tongue.

  4. Rinse the Scraper: After each scraping pass, make sure to rinse the scraper under running water to remove any debris or residue. You can also wipe it clean with a tissue or cloth if necessary.

  5. Repeat as Needed: Continue scraping your tongue until no more residue is removed, typically around 5-10 scraping passes. Be sure to focus on the center and back areas of the tongue, where bacteria and debris tend to accumulate most.

  6. Clean the Scraper: Once you've finished scraping your tongue, thoroughly clean the scraper with soap and water or an alcohol-based solution to prevent bacterial buildup between uses.

Finally, after tongue scraping, make sure to use expanding flosstoothpaste tablets, and alkaline mouthwash to thoroughly clean your mouth and remove any other remaining bacteria.

What are the side effects of tongue scraping?

While tongue scraping is generally safe and effective, it may cause minor side effects such as gagging, tongue irritation, and temporary soreness for some people. However, you can avoid these risks if you tongue scrape gently and with a smooth-edged scraper.

Essentially, it's important to be mindful of proper technique and to listen to your body's cues to prevent any discomfort or adverse reactions. If you experience persistent issues or discomfort, you should discontinue tongue scraping and consult with a dental professional for further guidance.

What's the best type of tongue scraper to use?

A metal tongue scraper

Metal tongue scrapers are the best type of tongue cleaner to choose from. Metal tongue scrapers are generally more effective because they provide a firmer and more thorough cleaning action compared to their plastic counterparts.

Further, studies suggest that tongue cleaning with a scraper is more effective than tongue brushing.

The smooth, sturdy surface of a metal scraper allows for better removal of bacteria, debris, and dead cells from the tongue's surface, which in turn promotes a cleaner mouth and fresher breath.

Additionally, metal tongue cleaners are typically more durable and longer-lasting than plastic ones, making them a more sustainable and cost-effective choice in the long run.

Furthermore, metal scrapers can be easily cleaned and sanitized, reducing the risk of bacterial growth and ensuring proper hygiene with each use.

Other Great Tips for Improving Oral Health

Biom Oral Care Products

In addition to incorporating tongue scraping into your oral care routine, there are several other tips you can follow to improve your oral health.

Brush With Nano Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste

Brushing with nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste is beneficial for strengthening tooth enamel, remineralization, and preventing and reversing tooth decay.

Nano hydroxyapatite is a natural mineral that makes up the majority of our tooth structure and has been shown to remineralize enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria.

By using toothpaste with nano hydroxyapatite, you can help protect your teeth from decay and maintain a healthy smile.

Use Expanding Floss Daily

Using expanding floss daily is essential for removing plaque and food particles from between your teeth and along the gumline. Expanding floss is designed to expand when it comes into contact with saliva, allowing it to clean more effectively between tight spaces and beneath the gumline.

By flossing daily, you can reduce your risk of demineralization and tooth decay, gum issues, and bad breath.

Avoid Smoking and Consuming Tobacco Products

Stop Smoking

Avoiding smoking and consuming tobacco products is crucial for maintaining good oral health. Tobacco use can lead to a wide range of dental problems, including stained teeth, bad breath, gum disease, and oral cancer.

Quitting smoking and avoiding other tobacco products can significantly improve your oral health and reduce your risk of developing serious dental issues in the future.

Swap Out Your Toothbrush Every 3 Months

A man holding toothbrush

Swapping out your toothbrush every three months is important for maintaining effective oral hygiene. Over time, toothbrush bristles can become worn and frayed, making them less effective at removing plaque and debris from your teeth and gums.

By replacing your toothbrush regularly, you ensure that you're using a tool that can clean your teeth effectively and help prevent oral health problems down the line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dentists recommend tongue scraping?
Yes, dentists often recommend using a tongue scraper as part of a comprehensive oral hygiene regimen. Tongue scraping helps remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from the surface of our tongues, which can otherwise contribute to bad breath and oral health issues if left untreated. By incorporating tongue scraping into your daily routine, you can improve breath freshness and promote better overall oral hygiene.

Is it good to scrape your tongue?
Yes, using a tongue scraper can be beneficial for your oral health, as it can effectively remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from the surface of your tongue, promoting better oral hygiene. This practice may help reduce bad breath and improve your overall oral health. However, it's important to use a tongue scraper gently to avoid irritation or damage to the tongue. Incorporating tongue scraping into your daily oral care routine can contribute to fresher breath and a cleaner mouth.

What is the disadvantage of using tongue scraper?
One potential disadvantage of using a tongue scraper is that it may cause irritation or discomfort if used too aggressively or if the scraper has sharp edges. Additionally, improper or excessive scraping could potentially damage the delicate surface of your tongue. However, when used correctly and gently, these risks are minimal. It's important to follow proper techniques and avoid overuse to minimize any potential drawbacks.

How often should you use a tongue scraper?
You should use a tongue scraper once or twice daily, ideally as part of your morning and evening oral hygiene routine. This frequency helps maintain oral health by regularly removing bacteria and debris without causing irritation or harm to the tongue's surface. However, individual needs may vary, so it's important to listen to your body and adjust if you experience any discomfort.

Do I scrape my tongue before or after brushing?
You should use a tongue scraper before brushing your teeth. Scraping your tongue first helps remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from its surface, allowing for a more effective cleaning process. After tongue scraping, proceed with brushing your teeth to complete your oral hygiene routine. This sequence can help improve breath freshness and overall oral health.

SWIPE Tongue Scrapers
SWIPE Tongue Scrapers
SWIPE Tongue Scrapers
SWIPE Tongue Scrapers
SWIPE Tongue Scrapers
SWIPE Tongue Scrapers

SWIPE Tongue Scrapers

Regular price$15
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  • Rust-proof 100% stainless steel
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  • 3 unique shapes for all tongues
  • Convenient travel case
  • Plastic-free

It's time to ditch the plastic tongue scraper and say hello to freshest breath of your life.