Oral Health Resources | 23 August, 2019

Tongue Scraping – An Ancient Art

We all know that brushing and flossing is vital to optimal oral health – do we really need to add ‘tongue scraping’ to the mix?

The premise is simple, a tongue scraper will help remove build-up of bacteria in your mouth, thereby improving the quality of your oral hygiene. However, the morning and evening routine is a busy one, so is this just a fashionable but unnecessary step to add to your already busy lives?

Read on, we’ll lay down the facts.

What is tongue scraping?

Tongue scraping or ‘Jihwa Prakshalana’ is the practice that removes bacteria, food debris, fungi, toxins, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue.

The practice has an interesting history – who would have thought! The technique is an ancient Ayurvedic (practice of traditional Indian medicine) self-care practice, and has been done for centuries in many parts of Europe, Africa, Arabia, India, and South America.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the health of the tongue is an indication of the health of the whole body.

It sounds painful…

Nope, it should not be painful. It is a quick, simple and extremely inexpensive practice that reaps many benefits. If you find that your tongue feels tender after cleaning, you may be applying too much pressure.

Why do we need to clean our tongue?

Most people are unaware that the bacteria in a mouth is actually on the tongue, as well as the teeth.

What are the benefits of tongue scraping?

Studies have shown that this simple technique can:

  • Reduce undesirable bacteria in the mouth that can compromise gum, teeth and oral health.
  • Improve tongue appearance – restores tongue back to healthy pink and gets rid of unsightly white goo!

A bit more history on the technique…

Tongue scraping and tongue brushing have been practiced for centuries in many parts of the world.

The Western civilisation has been slower to take on this technique, although between the 15th and 19th century, tongue cleaning was reserved for the affluent. Since the 20th century, tongue scraping has been commercialized and more popular.

In the past, tongue scrapers have been made of thin, flexible sections of wood, various metals, ivory, mother-of-pearl, whalebone, celluloid, tortoiseshell, and now, metals and plastic.

Alright I’m on board with tongue scraping, what next?!

Get yourself a tongue scrapper and get started! Most chemists, supermarkets and most Lumino The Dentists practices stock at least one type of tongue scraper.

The devices vary between plastic, stainless steel, copper and of course, prices vary also. Tongue scrapers are available in plenty of different shapes and styles.  The most commonly used tongue scrapers are the two-handled U-shape types and the single handled T-shaped types.

If you prefer not to invest in a tongue scraper but want to give it a go, a spoon will also do the trick, however be aware they may not be as efficient as a dedicated tongue scraper.

Tongue scraping tips

  • The tongue should be gently scraped from back to front for 7 to 14 strokes, standing in front of a mirror will help.
  • Be careful of your gag reflex, don’t try to go too far to the back of the tongue.
  • Clean your scraper under running water as you work.
  • From an ayurvedic perspective, tongue scraping should be performed on a daily basis, and not just on occasion.

If you have any concerns about the health of your tongue or mouth, it is always best to see your dentist. Find your nearest Lumino practice and make an appointment online or call any of our Lumino practices.