Full disclosure: this article is about to use a lot of cringe-worthy vocabulary (read: scraping tongue, saliva, yeast, etc.). I thought “moist” was my least favorite word in the English language until I had to say “gag reflex” approximately 100 times in this article (OK, it was just a couple times and that was a slight exaggeration, but you get my flair for drama at this point). However, it’s also one of the wellness routines that has changed my life and my health, so it’s worth it to me to type out “gag reflex” more often than I ever hoped I would have to as a service to the public. You are welcome, public!
Now that we have that PSA out of the way, let me introduce you to the simple-yet-effective practice that is missing from your daily routine: tongue scraping. Tongue scraping is essentially using designated tools to remove extra particles and bacteria from the surface of your tongue. While it’s currently #trending on social media, it’s nothing new. It’s actually really, really old.
Tongue scraping is a practice from Ayurveda, an ancient form of medicine. Ayurveda teaches that we can learn a lot from our tongues. Not only can our tongues help determine our doshas (or mind/body types), but they can tell us about the state of our health. You can find out if you have yeast overgrowth, because the toxins and bacteria actually stick around on the surface of your tongue. Eating or drinking with these toxins and bacteria in your mouth causes you to re-ingest them in your body (I warned you, cringe-worthy!).
So for all you wellness warriors and health gurus out there, before you sip on your warm lemon water in the morning, and FOR SURE before your oat milk matcha latte, for the love of God, scrape the hell out of your tongue. Here’s why and how to do it:
Benefits of Tongue Scraping
Let me be frank with you for a second — we don’t like to think about what’s going on in our mouths (I mean, we brush and floss so it should be clean, right!?), but bacteria, dead cells, and toxins can build up on the surface of our tongues while we’re sleeping and in sedentary position for extended periods of time (yes, even if you brush your teeth really really well). Scraping in the morning gets rid of all of the bad bacteria and toxins that have formed a layer on the surface of our tongues overnight. Benefits of tongue scraping include:
- Reducing bad breath: Scraping your tongue has actually been proven to be more beneficial at reducing and preventing bad breath than brushing your teeth. This is because the bacteria that sits on your tongue is often the exact bacteria that causes bad breath.
- Improving digestion: One of the biggest Ayurvedic perks of this practice is the ability to boost digestion and even work as a digestive aid. A clean tongue promotes proper saliva production, and saliva production contains digestive enzymes that help break down food.
- Boosting the immune system: Think of your tongue as the first line of defense against illness. The toxins that stick around on your tongue can be reabsorbed by the body and weaken the immune system.
- Enhancing taste buds: Yes, really — by removing the coating on your tongue, your tastebuds have a more intense access to food.
- Improving heart health: When we have buildup of plaque and bad bacteria in our mouth, it’s usually swallowed overtime, which is linked to cardiovascular disease and heart problems down the road.
- Preventing cavities: Sure, you know to brush twice a day and floss in order to prevent cavities, but if you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do and still dread going for a checkup at the dentist because you always get one or two cavities, try tongue scraping. The back part of the tongue (sorry, gag reflex — there’s that word again!) contains a lot of bacteria and toxins that cause plaque. Less bacteria and toxins on the tongue translate to less plaque on the teeth.
The Right Way to Tongue Scrape
First of all, you need a tool. The tip of a spoon can be used in a pinch but nothing will remove bacteria and dead cells like a tool that’s designed to do exactly that. There are a lot of plastic options out there, but try to go the stainless steel route, since it’s better for your health. Stick your tongue all the way out and slowly pull the scraper from the back of your tongue (or middle, if you’re worried about the ~ gag reflex ~) — I know, it’s beginning to sound like an erotic novel. Rinse the scraper, clean off with a tissue or clean towel, and repeat one more time. Store in a clean, cool place and wash with soap often for optimal benefits. Scrape whenever you brush your teeth (morning and night!). Your tongue has never been cleaner!
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Have you tried tongue scraping?