RubmdMedicalHow Tongue Scraping Can Transform Your Oral Hygiene Routine

How Tongue Scraping Can Transform Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Tongue scraping is a simple oral hygiene practice that has become popular recently for its many health benefits beyond just fresh breath. By using a specially designed tool to scrape off the buildup on your tongue each day gently, you can remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that contribute to issues like bad breath, plaque buildup, gum disease, and more. While tongue scraping has been done for thousands of years, more and more people are discovering the easy and effective way it can improve overall oral and digestive health.

What is Tongue Scraping?

Tongue scraping refers to using a specially designed U-shaped metal or plastic tongue scraper to remove bacteria, food debris, fungi and dead cells that build up on the surface of the tongue. This buildup leads to bad breath and negatively impacts oral and overall health.

Ayurvedic medicine has promoted tongue scraping for thousands of years as a key component of daily oral care to prevent disease and promote wellbeing. More recently, Western medicine and dental professionals have started recognizing the many evidence-based benefits of regular tongue scraping as well.

Benefits of Tongue Scraping

Adding tongue scraping to your oral hygiene regimen provides remarkable health advantages:

1. Eliminates Bad Breath

Bad breath or chronic halitosis, is most commonly caused by the toxins from bacteria and decaying food accumulating on the tongue’s surface. Tongue scraping is proven to effectively reduce bad breath by removing this buildup. Studies show it works better than mouthwash alone.

2. Removes Oral Bacteria

There are more bacteria on the tongue than anywhere else in the mouth. Research indicates that bacteria residing on the roughly textured and porous surface of the tongue can contribute to cavities, gingivitis and various other oral health issues. Tongue scraping helps control harmful oral bacteria.

3. Improves Taste

By wiping away dead cells, bacteria and food debris, tongue scraping helps refresh your mouth, clears bitter tastes and improves your ability to discern flavors. One study found over 77% of participants reported better taste perception after two weeks of regular tongue scraping.

4. Aids the Immune System

Some holistic dental professionals theorize that removing excess bacteria and toxins from your tongue may support immune response throughout the body. Limiting incoming toxins reduces the immune system’s workload.

5. Freshens Breath Longer after Brushing

While tooth brushing also temporarily decreases oral bacteria, since more microbes live on the tongue, it regrows faster on the tongue than on teeth surfaces after brushing. Targeting the tongue has a longer lasting effect for freshening breath.

6. May Reduce Inflammation

Recent preliminary studies report correlations between tongue scraping and decreases in markers for inflammation like cytokines as well as improvements in oral hygiene. More research is still needed, but removing inflammatory bacteria seems promising for reducing disease-causing inflammation.

7. Improves Taste, Smell and Recovery from Cold/Flu

Anecdotal evidence from avid tongue scraper users indicates benefits for diminished taste and smell during or after upper respiratory infections from colds and sinus infections. Tongue scraping may help decrease related congestion and recover capacities faster.

Types of Tongue Scrapers

Tongue scraping tools have come a long way since their first inception in ancient India. Today tongue cleaners come in all shapes, sizes, designs and materials:

Metal Tongue Scrapers

Stainless steel is the most common metal choice. Metal tongue scrapers frequently have curved, beveled edges and wide scraping surfaces. Copper tongue scrapers also have antimicrobial properties.

  • Pros: Strong, durable, lasts a very long time, easily sterilized
  • Cons: Risk of injury if applied too aggressively, metal can be harsh and uncomfortable for some users

Plastic Tongue Scrapers

Molded plastic tongue cleaners are mainstream, affordable and available. Textured grip areas provide control. Some models have soft, gentle bristles along the scrapers.

  • Pros: Lightweight, cost effective, variety of colors and mass market availability
  • Cons: Less durable long-term, can develop mold if not fully dried, may have plastic manufacturing chemical concerns for some consumers

Natural Material Tongue Scrapers

Eco-conscious consumers can find scrapers made of renewable materials like bamboo, wood, coconut shell composite and copper. These durable choices have a smaller carbon footprint.

  • Pros: Sustainable materials, provide variety of textures, lightweight
  • Cons: Comparatively expensive,Replay may have higher bacteria risk with porous wood

How to Use a Tongue Scraper Properly

Fortunately, tongue scraping only adds about 30 seconds to one’s regular oral care routine. But technique impacts efficacy and safety. Follow these best practices:

Before First Use

  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling any oral hygiene tools to prevent spreading germs and contamination.
  • Rinse scraper under warm water before first use to remove any residues from manufacturing and transit.
  • Start gently, trying lighter short strokes and increase pressure gradually as comfort allows.

Proper Technique

  • Always scrape the tongue before brushing teeth so toothpaste does not interfere with removing debris. Brush teeth right after for a thoroughly refreshed mouth.
  • Hold the scraper in your dominant hand between thumb and fingers. Grip tongue gently but firmly with other hand, similar to brushing teeth. Some prefer using index finger to isolate and lift tongue tip first.
  • Starting as far back as comfortable along one side, place tongue scraper flush with the top surface of the tongue angled slightly toward the throat. Apply light pressure as size and texture varies.
  • In firm, controlled, short 3-4 cm strokes, scrape from back to front to remove buildup layer by layer, rinsing scraper often. Avoid 2-3 cm midline near the throat.
  • Repeat process section by section on sides, middle and back until tongue appears cleaner, pinker and glossed with saliva. Focus extra strokes on any white coated or discolored areas.
  • Rinse mouth thoroughly with water when complete. Spit out rinse water for clearer progress checks. Look for dark dots and cloudiness initially as cleansing occurs. Rinse tongue scraper well after each use.


Initially, consider scraping daily or every other day, observing degree of debris. Adjust to maintain clean tongue with 1-2 specialized scrapings weekly for maintenance after deep cleaning is achieved. Some sources suggest daily preventative scraping is best long term. Note taste bud sensitivity will adjust over 1-2 weeks of regular scraping.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Tongue scraping is generally harmless when done carefully. However, certain overzealous mistakes can backfire:

Aggressive Scraping

Over-scraping too hard with sharp edges can damage tongue tissue, causing soreness, irritation or injuries. Ease in slowly and respond to any discomfort by adjusting pressure or stroke length.

Inadequate Rinsing

Failing to regularly rinse away debris allows it to be re-deposited deeper on the tongue. Rinse the scraper itself often as well during the process. Always rinse thoroughly after.

Reusing Contaminated Scrapers

Using a contaminated tongue scraper spreads bacteria. Never share scrapers. Always wash hands before handling the tool or your tongue. Rinse and towel dry scraper thoroughly between uses if not visible completely clean and dry already.

Storing Wet Scrapers

Wet storage promotes mold and bacteria growth. Fully dry tongue scraper on a clean towel before putting away to prevent microbial issues long term, especially with natural bristle scrapers.

Tongue Scraping Safety, Allergies & Side Effects

When practiced carefully using proper technique, tongue scraping is completely safe for the vast majority of adults and children ages 5+. Since it simply removes superficial debris, any skin interactions or absorption concerns associated with chemicals in mouthwash are not a factor.

A few considerations include:

  • Injuries – Scraping too hard with more aggressive edges can damage tongue tissue. Ease pressure up slowly and adjust tools and technique rather than submitting tongue to this mistake regularly. Stop if soreness results.
  • Allergies – Extremely rare metal allergies may cause issues over time with prolonged contact from a stainless steel or copper scraper for sensitive individuals. Switch material types if irritation persists.
  • Choking Hazards – Young children under age four could choke on scrapers. Adult supervision required.
  • Tooth Damage – Take care to avoid scraping the hard palate or teeth enamel surfaces with sharper metal tools.

With conscious precautions, tongue scraping is very low risk. Most users report only positive side effects like fresher breath, improved taste and wellness motivation around oral health routines after adding tongue scraping.

How to Clean Tongue Scrapers

To limit recontamination, thoroughly cleaning tongue scrapers between uses is paramount, especially with the reservoir of bacteria residing on the tongue.

Quick Rinse

  • Rinsing well with water long enough to observe the rinse spray clearing is important to prevent immediate redeposit of some debris scraped off during cleaning.

Soap and Water Wash

  • Use warm water and soap without strong fragrances. Scrub scraper surfaces with toothbrush, nail brush or other small brushes paying close attention to any textured grip areas where residue accumulates.

Boiling Water Option

  • As an alternative to scrubbing, some sources suggest placing tongue cleaner in boiling water for 3-5 minutes effectively sanitizes the scraper. Do exercise caution handling soon after boiling and fully air drying prior to next use to avoid burns.

Vinegar Soak

  • For a chemical-free approach, white distilled vinegar makes an effective antibacterial solution for soaking cleaners 5 minutes. Combining with lemon juice boosts results. Rinse thoroughly afterwards. Ratio is generally 1 cup vinegar to 2 cups water. Avoid large batches growing bacteria before use.

Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Using hydrogen peroxide as a soak or direct application to tongue scraper with a soaked cotton pad or soft brush also cleans and disinfects plastic and metal varieties well. Rinse after fizzing subsides.

UV Light Sanitizers

  • Investing in a UV sanitizing storage box or wand provides chemical-free cleansing by disrupting DNA production in bacteria and microorganisms. Utilize the manufacturer recommended exposure duration cycle.

Combine scrubbing and an alternative sanitizing technique for best results cleaning tongue scrapers. Ensure drying fully before covering for storage as well. Added weekly disinfecting maintains effectiveness over months of scraping use.

Discovering the Best Tongue Scraper

The array of tongue scraper choices today accommodates all preferences and budgets for adding this oral wellness habit. Identify needs and perfect the technique before selecting long term tools.

Consider factors like:

  • Materials – Stainless steel for durability vs plastic for softness
  • Comfort – Smooth edges or rounded shapes vs angular designs
  • Efficiency – Wide scraper heads vs dual headed options
  • Special Features – Bristles, grips, travel cases
  • Budget – Under $5 to $15+ for designer choices

Sampling affordable options first allows finding ideal styles to upgrade later or gift better quality picks once scraping is an established habit. Even basic models provide immense benefits depth and comfort scraping long term.

Making Tongue Scraping a Daily Habit

Integrating tongue scraping seamlessly into your self-care rituals streamlines sticking with it. Making the commitment requires adjusting your mindset and oral care habits.

Becoming Convinced

Review the compelling health, wellness and fresh breath benefits routinely. Watch video tutorials demonstrating just how much hidden grime accumulates on tongues. Once you witness scraped debris firsthand, you will become convinced too.

Allowing Time Adjustment

Initially tacking on new steps extends your oral care routine. But we all adjust habits around things that become priorities. Soon you won’t recall the last time you skipped it.

Pairing Scraping with Existing Habits

Connect tongue cleaning steps to current habits by scraping right before brushing teeth or using bathroom time effectively by scaling teeth and tongue back to back. Floss, brush, scrape tongue and rinse becomes your standard sequence.

Not Letting Travel Derail the Routine

Stash mini tongue scraper versions in travel bags, lockers or desks at work to scrap on the go. Or pack a trusted regular sized one. Stay as consistent as possible even if just a quick once over for maintenance.


Does tongue scraping hurt?

Tongue scraping should not hurt if done properly. Apply light pressure and focus on removing debris gently without damaging taste buds. Using a scraper with smooth, rounded edges minimizes discomfort. Allow your mouth to adjust during the first 1-2 weeks of scraping if tongue feels extra sensitive initially.

When should I scrape my tongue?

The best time to scrape your tongue is in the morning before eating or drinking anything. This allows better visibility and access to the previous day’s accumulated coating on the tongue’s surface to remove. Also scrape before your evening brushing to clean away daily buildup for fresher overnight breath.

Can I scrape too hard?

Yes, excessively aggressive scraping can damage tongue tissue. Ease into increasing pressure and pay attention to any discomfort, bleeding or lasting soreness as signs to gentle your approach. Investing in a scraper with rounded, smooth edges can allow firmer scraping without injury.

How do I clean my tongue scraper between uses?

To limit bacteria exposure, clean your scraper by scrubbing well with soap and warm water or soaking in mouthwash, vinegar, peroxide or boiling water. Rinse thoroughly. UV sanitizers also disinfect between uses. Ensure drying fully before covering and storing as well.

Can I share my tongue scraper with family members?

Sharing tongue scrapers is not recommended due to the bacteria exposure risk. Bacteria and viruses from illnesses can spread this way. Using your own designated scraper helps track your oral health individually as well. Assign a color coded scraper for each family member, especially helpful for children.

Final Lines

The proof is hard to deny – incorporating tongue scraping delivers immense yet simple health upgrades with very little effort or lifestyle impact. Beyond fresher breath lies cleaner teeth, improved taste and immunity and reduced bacteria linked to multiple issues.

Commit just 30 seconds twice a day to this ancient cleansing ritual passed down by holistic healers. Select any budget-friendly starter scraper that appeals from online or health food stores. But begin rebalancing oral microbiology right away. In no time, you will become a believer in the broad wellness booster Ayurveda has touted for eons that is tongue scraping. Namaste!

Dr. Ankitkumar Dental
Dr. Ankitkumar Dental
Dr. Ankitkumar: Bachelor Of Dental Surgery (BDS) | Post Graduate Diploma In Oral Implantology, is registered as a Medical Practitioner.

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