Is Tongue Scraping Necessary? What Are the Benefits of Tongue Cleaning?

November 11, 2020

Is Tongue Scraping Necessary? What Are the Benefits of Tongue Cleaning?

kid, tongue, cleaning


What is tongue cleaning or tongue scraping? It is exactly what it sounds like, cleaning your tongue from food particles and bacterial build up. These leftover particles and bacterial byproducts can accumulate and contribute to:

  • Bad breath
  • A bacterial imbalance in your oral microbiome
  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • A reduced sense of taste
  • Giving your tongue a unattractive coating and even a “hairy” appearance

Cleaning your tongue is not a new idea. In fact, it has been around for centuries. Its earliest use is found in ancient Ayurvedic medicine where it was a recommended practice for removing toxins and cleansing one’s mouth. The practice gained popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, particularly amongst the more affluent classes.

How does tongue cleaning (scraping) work?

While your tongue may feel pretty smooth to you (at least it should) the fact is that it is full of little crevices and pockets. Your tongue makes the perfect place for bacteria to grow as it is warm, moist and there is a steady supply of food. All of those little crevices and pockets trap particles of food that not only feed the bacteria but get rather stinky as the food decomposes.

Our ancient ancestors ate a lot of rough food with fiber, this helped to keep the tongue and mouth cleaner. But, in today’s world, we are more likely to eat foods that are low in fiber as well as those that are higher in carbohydrates and sugars. This combination contributes to the bacterial growth on your tongue (in fact, the entire mouth). This leads to bacterial overgrowth that exceeds the body’s natural process to rid itself of bacteria as well as to keep the oral bacteria in balance.

Tongue cleaning works to remove food particles and to control the bacteria (along with their by-products) that accumulate on the tongue.

The result is a healthier and fresher smelling mouth. This is supported by scientific studies.

For example, the primary source of bad breath is the gases, or fumes, given off by bacteria in your mouth. The scientific name for these gases is “Volatile Sulfur Compounds” or VSC for short. So, you can measure bad breath by the levels of VSCs.

An important indicator of gum inflammation, gingivitis, in your mouth is a measurement of Gingival Crevicular Fluid (GCF is basically fluid in your gum crevices) that shows how much inflammation is present in your gums. 

Scientific studies show that tongue cleaning, when added to routine dental hygiene, produces significantly better results at controlling bad breath and gum inflammation than the subjects that only did routine oral hygiene. (Tongue cleaning reduces the VSCs and levels of GCF)

Simply put, the majority of bacteria in your mouth accumulates in and on your tongue. While a balance of healthy bacteria is an essential and vital part of your mouth, you can have too much of a good thing. Add to that some old food, fungi, dirt, dead cells and you have a fairly filthy mix.

A simple tongue cleaning takes seconds and should be a part of your daily dental routine, so let's make it a habit.

Also in News

How to Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums at Home
How to Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums at Home

June 10, 2021

Great personal health and wellness begins in the mouth, the gateway to your body. It is more than just a smile. Find out more about an simple system for superior oral health and build a naturally healthy great smile.

Continue Reading

How Does Zinc Help Your Body and Your Bones
How Does Zinc Help Your Body and Your Bones

April 16, 2021

Getting your calcium and D3 is important to building strong bones. But, without the supporting minerals, especially zinc, the body's process of bone formation won't function well. Find out about zinc, and other bone building minerals, in this blog.

Continue Reading

When Do You NOT Brush Your Teeth
When Do You NOT Brush Your Teeth

April 09, 2021

When to brush your teeth is a question we are often asked. But understanding first when NOT to brush your teeth can help you take much better care of your teeth and help them to last for a lifetime of good use.

Continue Reading