Typically speaking, as long as you brush your teeth properly twice a day with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, you don’t need a tongue scraper to keep your mouth clean. That said, while it’s not a strict necessity for everyone, there are some people who require the use of tongue scrapers more than others, for example, those with bad breath (halitosis).
Tongue scrapers are a great tool if you suffer from bad breath as they help to remove bacteria and food debris, reducing the bacterial load on the tongue (the cause of bad breath). As much as 90% of bad breath can originate on the tongue, and while tongue scrapers can’t prevent bad breath for good, consistent usage of a tongue scraper (twice daily) can freshen the breath for a short period of time.
A tongue scraper might also be used by individuals with coated or white tongues. Some people naturally have thicker coatings or a white appearance on their tongues, which can be caused by a build up of bacteria. Using a tongue scraper can help this condition.
Also, something that not many people know is that a dirty tongue can impact the function of your taste buds. In this case, using a tongue scraper to clean the tongue can contribute to improved taste perception.
Individuals with poor oral health who may have specific oral health issues, such as periodontal disease or recurrent gum infections, may also find that incorporating a tongue scraper into their dental routine helps maintain overall oral health.
Are Tongue Scrapers Safe?
The simple answer is - yes, tongue scrapers are typically considered safe when used properly, and shouldn’t hurt or cause any damage to the tongue. They are designed specifically for cleaning the tongue's surface and are available in various materials, including plastic, metal, and silicone.
People with certain medical conditions affecting the tongue should consult with their healthcare or dental professionals before including tongue scraping into their dental routine, just in case it causes any issues.
While tongue scraping is generally safe to use, there may be circumstances where it's not suitable for specific individuals. For example, those with tongue piercings or oral wounds should take caution when using a scraper or avoid using it all together in those sensitive areas.
Do You Use a Tongue Scraper Before or After Brushing?
While there is no strict rule on whether you should use a tongue scraper before or after brushing, the general recommendation is to use a tongue scraper after brushing your teeth. This is because brushing your teeth helps remove plaque and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth, and following this with a tongue scraper afterwards can help remove bacteria, dead cells, and left over food debris from the surface of your tongue.
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When you use a tongue scraper, the general advice is to begin right at the back of your tongue and scrape in a forwards motion. However, for those with a sensitive gag reflex, this can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to using a scraper. If this is the case, start further forwards, such as at the middle of your tongue, and scrape from there. While you won’t get the full benefits of tongue scraping, it’s better than not scraping at all.
If desired, you can also rinse your mouth with an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to help kill remaining bacteria and freshen your breath for a complete dental care routine.
Discover how to use mouthwash effectively here.
Clean You Clean Your Tongue Without a Scraper?
In short - yes, you can absolutely clean your tongue without a tongue scraper. Even though tongue scrapers are specifically designed to effectively clean your tongue, there are a number of alternative methods to clean your tongue.
How to Clean Tongue Without Tongue Scraper
Some methods of cleaning your tongue without a scraper include:
- Toothbrush bristles - You can use the soft bristles of your toothbrush to gently brush your tongue.
Saltwater rinse - Create a saltwater solution with warm water and rinse your mouth out with it. Saltwater can help kill bacteria in your mouth, contributing to a cleaner tongue.
- Staying hydrated - This one is simple! Making sure that you’re drinking plenty of water will help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth and can naturally help flush away debris left on your tongue.
Although there are special tools, many people prefer to use a toothbrush to clean their tongue due to effectiveness and convenience. In fact, in a survey about tongue cleaning habits for nearly 500 participants, 81.4% of people reported they use their toothbrush to clean their tongue.
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And there we have it! We hope this article has helped you determine whether or not you need to use a tongue scraper, and how to use one if so.
Brush Fresh Co. is founded and run by a group of UK-based dentists, who specialise in environmentally-friendly and sustainable dental products. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste toothbrush tablets, our product range has been designed to put both your dental health and the environment first.Written by Kate, on behalf of Brush Fresh Co - the UK's Dental Experts Providing eco-friendly dental care.