Tongue scraping is a dental hygiene technique that’s gaining popularity across social media channels. It claims extreme benefits such as defeating bad breath, eliminating bacterial buildup, preventing cavities and improving dental health. If you’ve heard mentions of it you might be wondering — what is tongue scraping exactly and is it worth the hype? We’ll discuss what tongue scraping is and what studies actually prove about the practice, whether you should stick to traditional routines or add something new to your brushing regiment.

What is tongue scraping?

Tongue scraping is a hygiene practice that involves using a rounded plastic or metal tool to remove extra food particles, dead cells, and bacteria from the surface of the tongue. It is intended to remove the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and bad breath. 

Many people have added tongue scraping as an extra step in their dental hygiene routine, others do it after meals instead of brushing, and still others say it improves the appearance of their tongue — but is it actually working? And could it be a replacement for other forms of cleaning?

What Dentists Say About Tongue Scraping

Dentists say that while tongue scraping probably won’t have adverse effects on your health, most studies show inconclusive or insignificant results of regular tongue scraping for reducing odor or bacteria. There isn’t a clear trend that demonstrates incorporating daily tongue scraping will lower your chance of getting a cavity or that it removes particles responsible for bad breath.

Dentists agree that a greater focus on cleaning all areas of the mouth is beneficial for your health and that taking good care of your tongue is important. For tongue scraping to really remove enough particles it would have to be performed many times per day, but should never replace regular brushing and flossing. 

Still, since there are few side effects, dentists don’t discourage patients from trying it out and seeing if it works for them. If you do experiment with tongue scraping, take care to sanitize the scraper before and after use and make sure there are no sharp points that could cut or abrase the tongue. Of course, remember to keep up with your regular dental hygiene routine.

What You Need to Defeat Bad Breath

While some claim tongue scraping to be an excellent way to get rid of odorous or unwanted particles, there are more effective methods for keeping your mouth clean and healthy. 

Twice Daily Brushing

Regular and thorough brushing of all teeth is the first defense against bacteria and tooth decay. You should brush at least twice per day for a minimum of two minutes. Use a toothbrush that allows you to reach all areas of the teeth, carefully around the gums, and even over the surface of your tongue.  

Regular Flossing

Flossing is a great way to get at particles that hide between teeth. You should floss daily, but it’s easier to make it a second step to brushing in the morning and evening. Flossing removes dangerous plaque before it turns into tartar and can help keep your teeth cavity-free. If you don’t want to use floss, there are alternative methods like using a water flosser which can be gentler on sensitive gums while also easier to navigate around permanent retainers or braces. 

Drinking Water

Drinking recommended amounts of water throughout the day can also relieve bad breath. Regular intake of fluids is not only good for the rest of your body but is also excellent for dental hygiene. Drinking water pushes food particles out of the mouth and cleanses the tongue’s surface. It works to maintain a balance of healthy bacteria in the mouth while driving out the bad.

Dental Cleanings

Of course, the best way to make sure your mouth is as healthy as it can be is by visiting your dentist regularly. Your dentist can remove dangerous plaque buildup and tartar before it threatens your teeth and gums with cavities or disease. Cleanings and annual fluoride treatments defeat lingering bacteria that brushing and flossing didn’t remove. If you’re concerned that an underlying issue might be causing a persistent problem with bad breath, your dentist will be able to help investigate and provide solutions.

While tongue scraping won’t necessarily give you better breath, a regular dental checkup will! Give us a call at (616) 842-0822 or schedule your next appointment online with Creason, Weber & Mountford today to make sure your dental health is in check.