Do Tongue Scrapers Kill Bad Breath?
We brush our teeth. We floss. We use mouthwash. We visit our dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. Now we need to scrape our tongue? Is the next thing using a vacuum cleaner in our mouth? Well, you can’t buy one yet, but some dentists use a type of professional vacuum cleaner to clean patients’ tongues!
There is some disagreement among dental researchers concerning the efficacyof tonguescrapers in killing bad breath. Nevertheless, there are still some good reasons to use one, and in this article we’ll let you in on all of it with no ‘tongue in cheek’ intended.
Tongue Scrapers and the Main Culprit of Oral Halitosis
Dental experts agree that the tongue is one of the main sources of bad breath. Other causes are gum disease and dental decay. The tongue surface is covered with tinycrevices and cracks between the taste buds. These crevices trap minute particles of food and bacteria that decompose, causing malodoroussulfur-type gases to form.
Of the very few research articles on tongue scraping, one showed scrapers reducing 75% of odor causing debris while a regular toothbrush only removed 45%. Another study showed very little difference in scraping the tongue versus brushing it with a toothbrush. Researchers do agree that tongue-scraping benefits are relatively short term.
There is a plethora of tongue cleaners on the market inevery size, shape and colour. Not surprisingly, each oneclaims to be superior to their competitor’s products. For those torn between using a brush or scraper, there is even one product that has a brush on one side and, when flipped over, displays a tongue scraper.Fortunately, tongue cleaners are very inexpensive, generally costing under $10.00.
For those wishing to take their tongue hygiene to a higher level, there are sonic tongue cleaners. These are often separate attachment headsthat fit on sonic toothbrushes.
Persistent bad breath may be a sign of a medical disorder such as gastroesophageal reflux, sinus drainage, diabetes, or other metabolic disorders. After a reasonable amount of time using all available oral hygiene methods at home, a visit to a dentist or physician is advised if halitosis persists or is particularly severe.
- Make sure that your tongue cleaner is, well, clean itself! Rinse your tongue scraper before and after use to remove any residual bacteria or food debris.
- Place the scraper on the back of your tongue and work your way forward.
- It is important to scrape all areas of the tongue, not just the center. There are some taste buds on the sides of the tongue, especially towards the back.
- After cleaning your tongue, rinse out your mouth.
- Placing tongue scrapers too far towards the back of the mouth may stimulate the ‘gag reflex’. If you start gagging, move the scraper towards the front of the tongue. Most people will eventually develop a tolerance for scraping the back of the tongue. Some people have an extreme gag reflex and must rely on other hygiene methods in their battle against bad breath.
- Scraping too hard may cause damage to the taste buds or cause bleeding. Don’t overdo your tongue scraping, especially with metal scrapers.
Good news! Scraping your tongue is scientifically established and well worth the timeas an important weapon for managing bad breath.
Other unsubstantiated claims for tongue scrapersinclude improved digestion, removal of ‘toxins’, enhanced immunity, and improvement in sense of taste.
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