Dental problems such as cavities and gum disease are caused by harmful bacteria. One of the main reasons for regular brushing and flossing is to keep these microbes in check. Should you add a tongue scraper to this list of oral hygiene essentials?
What Is a Tongue Scraper?
Tongue scrapers are simple oral health tools that help you clean the surface of your tongue. They come in countless sizes, usually with a thin, curved end for gentle scraping. Many tongue scrapers are made of plastic, but some high-quality styles feature stainless or copper.
What Are the Benefits of Tongue Scrapers?
There aren’t a ton of up-to-date studies about tongue scraping, but the research out there supports several benefits for oral health:
Fresher breath: Bad breath is often caused by the combination of bacteria and decomposing food particles. Many of these odor-causing germs live on your tongue. When used regularly, tongue scrapers can help you get rid of bad breath.
Fewer harmful bacteria: Brushing and flossing can get rid of bacteria on your teeth and gums, but germs can still stick around on your tongue. Tongue scraping can reduce the number of these microbes
Fewer dental health problems: Getting rid of bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities can help you avoid these problems. Of course, you still need periodic checkups with a dentist, but your teeth may only require cleaning instead of costly dental procedures.
Improved sense of taste: If foods don’t taste like they used to, part of the problem can be a buildup of germs on your tastebuds. Tongue scrapers can remove this layer of bacteria, letting you enjoy rich flavors again.
Why Not Use a Toothbrush?
Can’t you just brush your tongue instead of using another tool? Yes, but it doesn’t provide the same results. Tongue scrapers are far more effective for removing bacteria from the tongue.
Which Type of Tongue Scraper Is Best?
Copper tongue scrapers have natural antibacterial properties that can keep them cleaner, but they also cost more. Stainless steel scrapers last ages. Plastic scrapers are lightweight, but you have to replace them every three or four months. Dishwasher-safe products are a breeze to keep clean. Regardless of the option, the price tag is only around $10.
Are Tongue Scrapers Necessary?
On one hand, the only daily dental health habits that are truly essential are brushing and flossing after meals. If you have a busy schedule, it may be better to focus on these tasks instead of tossing another activity onto your daily things-to-do list.
On the other hand, tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive, and it only takes a minute to clean your tongue. Keep in mind that tongue scrapers aren’t a substitute for brushing and flossing. Instead, they’re designed as something extra to leave your tongue as squeaky clean as the rest of your mouth.
What’s the Right Way To Use a Tongue Scraper?
When used correctly, tongue scrapers are perfectly safe. To avoid problems with your gag reflex, don’t push the tool too far back, at least until you get used to it. As you scrape from back to front, use enough pressure to remove the layer of bacteria, but be gentle. Never push down so hard that you cause pain or bleeding.