Tongue Scraping | Important Benefits, Side Effects and More

The tongue is an organ present in the oral cavity. It is an organ made up of muscles and covered by papillae which help provide taste sensations.  It also helps in speaking and swallowing.

Tongue scraping is a method which involves the use of a tongue scraper to clean the tongue. Food, bacteria and dead cells get deposited on the surface of the tongue. This is similar to the deposition of debris seen on the teeth. A tongue scraper helps clean away these deposits from the tongue. Irregular cleaning of the tongue can lead to bad breath or halitosis. Tongue scraping helps prevent bad breath.


Tongue scrapers are available in different shapes and sizes. They are generally in a circular form. They are made of plastic or metal. Scraping is done from the back of the tongue to the tip, repeating it till the cleaning is complete. A toothbrush can also be used to clean the tongue.

Though tongue scraping helps relieve bad breath, it should never substitute tooth brushing. Tooth brushing is a must, which should be done regularly. Tooth brushing has many positive results in overall oral hygiene. Tongue scraping also helps in developing a healthy oral environment.

Benefits of tongue scraping

In addition to relieving bad breath, following are some benefits of tongue scraping:

1) Removal of Bacteria

 Bacteria like streptococcus and lactobacilli are commonly found in the oral cavity. Scraping of the tongue twice a day, daily shows a significant decrease in the number of bacteria present in the mouth.

2) Improvement in taste sensation

There are taste buds present on the tongue which help sense taste. Deposition of debris on the tongue reduces the ability to taste. Tongue scraping helps improve taste sensation.

3) Improved appearance of the tongue

Tongue is pink to red in colour. The deposition of food debris leads to discolouration of the tongue. A clean tongue has a fresh and healthy appearance.

4) Improved Health

A healthy mouth is a start to a healthy body. A clean, healthy tongue enhances body health.

The entire process of tongue scraping will take around two to three minutes. Tongue scraping should be done after every meal.

Is there anything a tongue scraper cannot do ?

It is believed that scraping of the tongue helps relieve bad breath. However, various scientific studies have proved that scraping helps in reducing bad breath partly. Maximum bad breath is caused due to unhealthy teeth. The most effective way to solve the problem of halitosis is tooth cleaning. Cleaning the tongue post meals may also help. Scraping the tongue in the morning is not as effective as cleaning it post meals. Also, a tongue scraper is more effective than a toothbrush. Any tool made for a specific purpose serves its function better than any other purpose.

How to use a Tongue Scraper ?

Tongue scrapping first begins with the selection of a tongue scraper. The preferred choice of a tongue scraper can be used. They are available in different materials such as metal or plastic.

The process of tongue scraping is quick and easy. The following steps should be followed:

1) Brush your teeth, floss and then rinse

2) Stand in front of the mirror and stick out your tongue

3) Use the rounded part of the scraper for scraping. The rounded part should touch the back of the tongue (in the beginning you can start from the middle third of the tongue)

4) Scraping should start behind the tongue to the tip. Not too much of pressure should be applied (Scraping should not be done from the tip to the back)

5) The entire surface of the tongue should be scrapped twice

6) After each stroke, the scraper should be cleaned with cloth or water

7) Wash the tongue scraper with warm water and soap, dry, and store in a clean, dry area

8) Rinse the mouth

Side Effects of Tongue Scraping

Tongue scraping is a painless and low risk procedure. There are few side effects of tongue scrapping, which include:

1) Gag reflex

The most common side effect of tongue scraping is gag reflex. This happens when the scraper touches the back of the tongue. Always while scraping, it should begin from the middle third of the tongue. Once you get used to it, you can go beyond the middle third of the tongue.

2) Tongue tearing

Also, there are chances of tearing of the skin due to scraping. This happens if the scraper is rough at one of its edges. Before starting, the tongue scraper should always be checked for its smoothness. Also, the amount of pressure applied matters. The pressure should not be too much to cause the tearing, nor should it be too little to remove the bacteria and debris.

Suggestions for a Healthy Mouth

In addition to tongue scraping, other measures need to be undertaken to maintain a healthy oral environment which includes:

1) Brushing teeth regularly

3) Rinsing with a mouthwash

4) Reducing intake of high sugar food

5) Visiting a dentist atleast twice a year for a regular check-up

Additional References

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