What’s inside your bathroom cabinet? You’ve your toothbrush, floss, toothpaste… one thing that many people don’t have however is a tongue scraper.
While it’s often overlooked, a tongue scraper is a crucial part of your oral health routine. After all, your tongue can play host to all sorts of bacteria, so it’s crucial that you take good care of it if you want the rest of your mouth to stay healthy!
Today, our dentist in Armadale is taking a break from looking after people’s teeth, and is going to be shining a spotlight on this essential – and often overlooked – piece of dental equipment.
So the next time you’ll see a tongue scraper in your favourite online shop or beauty store, you will know why it’s so important that you have one!
A better look at your tongue
As dentists, we don’t just look after your teeth – our focus is on helping you maintain your overall oral health.
That means looking after everything that’s in your mouth – tongue included.
In addition to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, it’s also important that your oral health routine includes measures to clean and look after your tongue as well.
Of course, before we discuss the importance of tongue scrapers, it’s key that you first know what can affect your tongue, and what a healthy tongue looks like!
What does a healthy tongue look like?
A healthy tongue is usually pink in colour with a thin white coating on the surface. You should be able to see the papillae or small modules along the surface of your tongue (these are what help you taste food).
The papillae also present plenty of little nooks and crannies for bacteria to settle, which can lead to oral health complications if they’re allowed to build up.
While it’s impossible to get rid of them entirely, there are things you can do to keep the bacteria levels in your tongue at a reasonable level.
One of which is using a tongue scraper!
Should I use a tongue scraper before or after brushing? How many times a week you should scrape your tongue
Ideally, you should use a tongue scraper once a day immediately after you brush your teeth, for a total of 7 times a week.
That can mean either morning or evening. It’s not terribly important which one you choose, so long as you:
- Use a proper scraper
- Scrape gently yet thoroughly for less than a minute
- Rinse your mouth afterwards
What comes off your tongue when you scrape it?
Your tongue is soft, with plenty of nooks and crannies – as such, it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and germs.
Over time, these can cause issues, which is what tongue scrapers are designed to remove.
Tongue scrapers are specifically designed to clean out bacteria and germs from your tongue. If ignored, these compounds can usually cause bad breath, especially when they get stuck in your tongue and have an opportunity to build up.
Why is my tongue still white after scraping?
A white tongue is often a sign of an unhealthy tongue – click here to check out an article we wrote a few weeks ago identifying the signs of an unhealthy tongue.
Daily tongue scraping can usually remove any white coating in your tongue and prevent it from returning.
In some cases however, a white patch can persist, indicating an issue deeper than just bad tongue hygiene. In cases like this, it’s best to get in touch with a dental professional to diagnose the issue and prescribe a solution.
The benefits of scraping your tongue (besides a healthier tongue, that is!)
Bacteria and plaque smell, especially when they build up. After a while, they can start affecting your breath.
Feel like you’ve done all you can to improve your breath?
Here’s a question: do you scrape your tongue regularly? Because if not, you could be missing the source of the problem altogether!
Oftentimes, the most persistent cause of bad breath can indeed be plaque on your tongue. Stale food particles, saliva and or plaque on the tongue will regularly be the cause of bad breath when all other sources have been eliminated. It pays to fix this problem early on to eliminate a common cause of bad breath.
Makes food tastier
It isn’t just your oral health that suffers if you don’t scrape your tongue – when your tongue is plastered in bacteria and other build-up, it can be hard to taste what it is you’re eating!
If you’ve noticed that things don’t taste quite as strong as they used to, it can be worth taking a look at your tongue to see whether or not that’s causing the issue.
A good tongue cleaning using a proper scraper can help you reveal long-hidden taste buds, remove any plaque and restore your sense of taste.
If you’re a foodie that’s noticed that your favourite meals don’t quite taste the same anymore, this can be a good habit to get into!
Reduce plaque and tartar build-up
Plaque and tartar build-up doesn’t just happen in your teeth – in many cases, it can also occur on your tongue.
And oftentimes, it doesn’t limit itself to your tongue – sometimes, this bacteria and plaque “jump” and start spreading to your teeth as well. Even if you brush regularly, you might still end up with plaque and bacteria build-up thanks to your tongue.
By spending just a little bit of time scraping your tongue, you are decreasing the chances of bacteria and plaque build-up on your teeth as well as your tongue.
Contributes to your overall oral health
Good oral health is about more than just your teeth – it’s about your entire mouth, tongue included.
When you use a tongue scraper, you remove any bacteria, cavities and germs that might result in gum disease, tooth decay and other oral health concerns that might affect your mouth.
And thus, you’ll be able to avoid making a trip to see an emergency dentist in Armadale further down the line – prevention is better than cure, as they say!
How can I get my tongue really clean?
A clean tongue doesn’t happen overnight. Like flossing, you need to make it a habit if you want to see real results.
Luckily, there’s good news: tongue scraping requires minimal tools, and it’s easy to keep your tongue clean so long as you keep at it.
Scrapers are affordable, and can be found in just about any pharmacy or supermarket and the best tongue scraper available has been imported from the USA and is available at Dental Care Group.
A lot of the time however, you won’t even need a dedicated scraper to do the job for you…
Should you brush your tongue with toothpaste?
While we recommend using a proper scraper, certain types of toothbrush can be almost as effective.
Many toothbrush manufacturers now include built-in scrapers on their toothbrushes – that’s what those bumpy rubber pads on the back are for.
Even if your brush doesn’t have those, you can still use your toothbrush to scrape your teeth – if you can’t find a scraper, any soft-bristled brush will do in a pinch.
Of course, your scraper (or soft toothbrush) doesn’t work on its own – before scraping your tongue, it would be best to brush your tongue with toothpaste like you would normally do with your teeth.
Apply toothpaste and brush your tongue back and forth, doing your best to reach as far back as possible.
- Step #1: After brushing, open your mouth wide and start scraping the rear end portion of your tongue
- Step #2: Apply gentle pressure, scraping from the back of your tongue to the front
- Step #3: After the first pass, you should be able to rinse and clean your scraper with hot water
- Step #4: Gargle using lukewarm water and spit it out
- Step #5: Repeat the tongue scraping process as necessary and store your tongue scraper in a dry and clean area
Take care of your tongue with the help of our Armadale dentist
Enjoy the benefits of a healthy tongue with the help from our Armadale dental clinic.
Just like your teeth and gums, your tongue needs to be cleaned to keep it healthy and maintain good oral health.
Our family dentist in Armadale provides you with a variety of dental treatments covering all life stages, from the baby’s first dental appointment to geriatrics, and everyone in between!
We offer people in Armadale dentistry that’s personalised to their needs, with specific recommendations, hygiene programs and advice that help you take good care of your oral health.
And a lot of that is education, telling you what you need to do (including how to keep your tongue healthy by scraping it!)