Why to scrape tongue?
Written by Anna Dale on November 3, 2021
Tongue scraping is recommended widely by dentists for the purpose of oral hygiene today. But did you know that this technique has been prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians thousands of years ago. According to Ayurveda scraping of the tongue in the morning is considered as an important part of daily routine. A thick coating on the tongue is not something you would like to ignore. Coated tongue indicates the presence of toxins (ama) in the system. The tongue is a unique organ which has got connection to the digestive system. It is a diagnostic tool, which is used by Ayurvedic practitioners to discover constitutional makeup and imbalances.
In the Charaka Samhita, an early Ayurvedic medical text, it says that by cleaning the tongue, “(this) removes foul smell, tastelessness … and by taking out dirt coated on the tongue, teeth and mouth brings relish immediately.”
The dorsal posterior part of most tongues has a coating of millions of organisms. During the putrefaction of debris on the tongue, hydrogen sulfide and methylmercaptan are produced, both of which have been related to oral malodour. It has been estimated that the debris in the mouth may be responsible for up to 90% of oral malodour (1).
Using a tongue scraper can help remove this build up. I am often asked if toothbrush can be used to clean the tongue instead of a scraper. A comparative clinical trial employing a toothbrush and tongue scraper has shown that tongue scraping reduce volatile sulfur compounds by 75%, while the toothbrush only achieved a 45% reduction in volatile sulfur compounds (2).
In my opinion, tongue scraper will not only remove the toxins more effectively, but it is also more hygienic.
According to Ayurveda scraping tongue will stimulate digestion and elimination. Ideally, vata can use a gold scraper, pitta a silver one, and kapha copper. Stainless steel scraper can be used by everyone.
How to scrape tongue?
Ayurveda recommends to brush teeth first and then to scrape the tongue.
The tongue should be relaxed.
Using a tongue scraper gently scrape from the base of the tongue forward, 7-10 strokes, rinsing the scraper after each stroke.
Get into routine of checking your tongue on a daily basis to bring awareness about your digestion. Start scraping your tongue on a daily basis to remove bacteria, sharpen sense of taste, prevent cavities, gum disease, and other conditions affecting the mouth (3,4).
Tongue‐Cleaning Methods: A Comparative Clinical Trial Employing a Toothbrush and a Tongue Scraper - Pedrazzi - 2004 - Journal of Periodontology - Wiley Online Library
The effect of tongue scraper on mutans streptococci and lactobacilli in patients with caries and periodontal disease - PubMed (nih.gov)
Impact of tongue cleansers on microbial load and taste - Quirynen - 2004 - Journal of Clinical Periodontology - Wiley Online Library