We’re going inside your mouth, of course, to your tongue – this is a dental article, after all! Because whether you know it or not, your tongue is also “all covered up” with a film– buried beneath layers of bacteria, fungi, and food residue that can inhibit your ability to taste, make your tongue appear various shades of yellow, white, or green and cause your breath to smell bad!
Remove the bacteria, though, and your food will once again directly interact with those taste buds, and return to its natural hue. So how does one do that? With a tongue scraper, of course!
What is a Tongue Scraper?
A tongue scraper is a U-shaped device designed to “scrape” the top layer of scum from your tongue. They have been used since ancient times, and have been made of everything from wood to whalebone. Nowadays, they are made of more hygienic material, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and colors.
Why Use a Tongue Scraper?
The residue on your tongue includes things like the cavity-inducing Streptococcus mutans bacterium, fungi, rotting food (that’s not good), and what’s referred to as “volatile sulfur compounds.” In other words, sulfur – that “rotting egg smell.” Talk about ew! So, as you can see, there are several reasons why you’d want to get rid of this gunk in your mouth. Let’s tackle them one by one:
- Reduce bad breath: ‘nuff said!
- Reduce your risk of periodontal disease and cavities: Bad bacteria contribute to plaque and tartar on teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities. Bacteria build-up can also lead to inflammation of gum tissue (gingivitis). If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which means a more expensive dental visit (plus other unwanted consequences!). Speaking of avoiding an expensive dental visit, when was the last time you came in to see us? Come see us now if it’s been a while, by calling us.
- Make room for good bacteria: see our article here on probiotics for your mouth.
- Prevent heart disease? While the debate is still up in the air, some studies suggest there could be a correlation between gum disease and heart disease.
How Does One Use a Tongue Scraper?
In general, make sure to rinse your tongue scraper before and after use. Apply the tongue scraper to the back of your tongue and drag it forward. Then, rinse and repeat. Make sure to get the sides of your tongue as well, not just the center!
Be sure not to press too hard or you can cause yourself to bleed. And, if you’re wondering if you should scrape your tongue while recovering from a dental procedure, that’s a good question … ask your dentist for the best advice particular to your situation. Still not sure how this thing really works? The next time you’re at BayView Dental Associates for your teeth cleaning, ask the dental hygienist for a quick tutorial!
Where Do I Buy One?
Your first choice is, believe it or not, your dentist. They may have a sample or coupon. Tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive, and can also be found at any local drugstore. It doesn’t matter the material, color, or brand – just find the one you like and get scraping!