6 Reasons to Scrape Your Tongue

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Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B

Your dentist harps on brushing and flossing, but has s/he ever mentioned tongue scraping? Tongue scraping is the unsung hero of dental health. An unscraped tongue is unhygienic, smelly, and bad for the health of the rest of your body.

If you’re not tongue scraping, the good news is this: it’s incredibly simple and takes seconds to do.

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Here are six great reasons to tongue scrape:

1. Enhance the flavors of your food.

Tongue scraping enhances your taste buds and the flavors you experience by removing the gunk that builds up on your tongue. When your tongue is coated in this buildup, your taste buds aren’t fully exposed and cannot completely experience the wonderful flavors in your food.

2. Improve heart health.

Poor dental hygiene is linked to cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes and infertility. You might think, “I have great dental hygiene!” But if you’re not tongue scraping, that’s an awfully large surface in the mouth to leave uncleaned.

3. Prevent cavities.

By cleaning your tongue – especially the back part – you remove bacteria and toxins responsible for plaque. This translates into less plaque buildup on your teeth, which prevents against tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

4. Get rid of bad breath.

Some studies estimate that 80 to 95% of bad breath comes from the buildup of food, bacteria, fungi, and dead cells at the back of the tongue. The front of your tongue might look pink and healthy, but stick your tongue out in front of a mirror and examine it way in the back. You’ll probably see white, yellow, or even brown buildup way back there if you aren’t tongue scraping — and people can smell it (not to mention see it when you laugh out loud).

5. Boost your immune system.

Scraping your tongue will prevent toxins from getting reabsorbed by your body. Tongue scraping is especially crucial while you’re sick since a lot of gunk from coughing, sneezing, or sucking on cough drops or other medicines can build up on the back of the tongue.

6. Improve your digestive health.

Tongue scraping and a clean tongue both promote saliva production, which helps with your digestion.

Bonus Reason #7: It’s dead simple.

Tongue scraping takes seconds. Once you see all the gunk that comes off your tongue, you’ll never go back!

My favorite tongue scraper and the one I personally use is Dr. Tung’s. It’s made out of stainless steel, which feels more hygienic than plastic ones I’ve used. It’s also a gentler and deeper scrape than many of the other plastic tongue scrapers I’ve tried, which have ridges on them. The most important thing is to choose one that’s comfortable for you and that you enjoy using.

Here’s my how-to tongue scrape video so you can have a visual when you’re ready to get started.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Got more questions about tongue scraping? Ask me a question!

Learn More: How to Clean Your Tongue for Optimal Oral Health