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Myth or Reality: Does Tongue Scraping Improve Oral Hygiene?

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Oral hygiene is an essential aspect of maintaining overall health. Brushing and flossing are commonly known practices to keep our teeth and gums healthy. However, there is another technique that has gained popularity in recent years – tongue scraping. Tongue scraping involves using a small tool to remove the buildup of bacteria, debris, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. Proponents of tongue scraping claim that it improves oral hygiene and offers various health benefits. But is this practice a myth or a reality? In this article, we will explore the research and evidence behind tongue scraping to determine its effectiveness.

The Origins of Tongue Scraping

Tongue scraping is not a new concept. It has been practiced for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Indian system of healing. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that tongue scraping helps remove toxins from the body and promotes overall well-being. The technique has also been a part of traditional Chinese medicine and other ancient cultures.

While the origins of tongue scraping may be rooted in ancient practices, its popularity has grown in recent years due to increased awareness of oral health and hygiene. Many people are now incorporating tongue scraping into their daily oral care routine, believing it to be an effective way to improve oral hygiene.

The Benefits of Tongue Scraping

Proponents of tongue scraping claim that it offers several benefits for oral health. Let’s explore some of the potential advantages of incorporating tongue scraping into your oral care routine:

  • Reduces Bad Breath: One of the primary reasons people turn to tongue scraping is to combat bad breath, also known as halitosis. The tongue’s surface can harbor bacteria and food particles, which can contribute to unpleasant breath. By removing this buildup, tongue scraping may help reduce bad breath.
  • Improves Taste Sensation: The tongue is responsible for our sense of taste. A coated tongue can affect our ability to taste food properly. Tongue scraping may help remove the buildup that dulls our taste buds, leading to an improved taste sensation.
  • Enhances Oral Hygiene: Tongue scraping is often seen as an additional step in maintaining oral hygiene. By removing bacteria and debris from the tongue’s surface, it may complement brushing and flossing, leading to a cleaner mouth.
  • Promotes Overall Health: Some proponents of tongue scraping believe that it can have benefits beyond oral health. They argue that removing toxins and bacteria from the tongue can improve digestion, boost the immune system, and even prevent certain diseases.

The Scientific Evidence

While the claims surrounding tongue scraping sound promising, it is essential to examine the scientific evidence to determine if they hold true. Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of tongue scraping in improving oral hygiene. Let’s take a closer look at some of the research:

Reduction in Bad Breath

One study published in the Journal of Periodontology examined the effects of tongue scraping on halitosis. The researchers found that tongue scraping significantly reduced volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in the breath, which are responsible for causing bad breath. Another study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene also reported a reduction in VSCs after tongue scraping.

These findings suggest that tongue scraping can be an effective method for reducing bad breath. However, it is important to note that bad breath can have various underlying causes, such as gum disease or certain medical conditions. Tongue scraping may help address the issue, but it is crucial to identify and treat the root cause of bad breath for long-term relief.

Improvement in Oral Hygiene

Several studies have investigated the impact of tongue scraping on oral hygiene. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology compared the effects of tongue scraping, toothbrushing, and a combination of both on plaque and gingivitis. The researchers found that tongue scraping, either alone or in combination with toothbrushing, resulted in a significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis compared to toothbrushing alone.

Another study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology evaluated the effects of tongue scraping on the levels of Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria associated with tooth decay. The researchers found that tongue scraping significantly reduced the levels of this bacteria in the mouth.

These studies suggest that tongue scraping can be a valuable addition to oral hygiene practices, helping to reduce plaque, gingivitis, and harmful bacteria. However, it is important to note that tongue scraping should not replace regular brushing and flossing, as these practices are essential for maintaining oral health.

How to Properly Scrape Your Tongue

Now that we have explored the potential benefits and scientific evidence behind tongue scraping, let’s discuss how to perform this technique correctly:

  1. Choose a tongue scraper: Tongue scrapers are available in various materials, such as stainless steel, copper, or plastic. Select a scraper that feels comfortable and has a gentle, curved edge.
  2. Position the scraper: Extend your tongue and place the scraper as far back on the tongue as comfortable.
  3. Gently scrape the tongue: With light pressure, drag the scraper forward along the surface of the tongue. Repeat this motion several times, rinsing the scraper between each scrape.
  4. Rinse your mouth: After scraping, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water or mouthwash to remove any loosened debris.
  5. Clean the scraper: Rinse the tongue scraper with water and sanitize it properly after each use.

It is important to note that tongue scraping should be done gently to avoid causing any discomfort or injury to the tongue. If you experience any pain or bleeding, consult a dental professional.


Tongue scraping has gained popularity as a method to improve oral hygiene and combat bad breath. While the scientific evidence supports the potential benefits of tongue scraping, it is important to remember that it should be used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing. Tongue scraping can be a valuable addition to your oral care routine, helping to reduce bad breath, improve taste sensation, and enhance overall oral hygiene. However, it is crucial to consult with a dental professional for personalized advice and to address any underlying oral health issues. By incorporating tongue scraping into your daily routine and maintaining good oral hygiene practices, you can take a proactive approach to your oral health and well-being.

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