Tongue scraping, ancient health trend resurfaces
SUMMARY: Looking for alternative methods to knock bad breath? Check out the Ayurvedic health practice of tongue scraping.
Posted: January 8, 2014
Your dentist may always remind you to clean your tongue, but this request is nothing new. A growing trend called tongue scraping, in which you place a device on your tongue to scrape off bacteria build-up, has been around for centuries. It is part of India's ancient health practice Ayurveda, which dates back 5,000 years.
Tongue scrapers help clean your mouth and fight off bad breath by removing the accumulation of dead cells, fungi, food debris and odor-causing bacteria. Dentists point out that while this technique can put a dent in halitosis, it is not effective without brushing, flossing and rinsing.
Much of the bacteria that causes bad breath originates toward the back of the tongue. In fact, almost half of our oral bacteria live around the deep crevices of our tongues. Thus, the scraping action gathers these toxic tongue coatings, which span in color from white to yellow to even green, and removes them from the body.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the tongue is one of the eight ways in which to diagnose, along with vision, pulse and sense of touch. The mouth's muscular organ is looked at as one of the body's channels of elimination. How your tongue appears can be a good indication of your internal health. Today, as Ayurvedic traditions have been resurging, we have finally started thinking along those same lines: oral and overall health are intertwined. Numerous studies have shown that the health of your mouth - and tongue - have been associated with the risk level for diabetes, heart disease and oral cancer.
"Tongue cleaning seems like a new concept in the western world," dentist Justin Claire explained to Westman Journal. "But tongue cleaning is of great importance even in modern times. It significantly reduces the bacterial load and food debris in the oral cavity as the tongue has a very large surface area in the papilli. Removing this bacteria and food debris may help with halitosis, gum disease and cavities."
Though tongue scraping products range in appearance, most come in 'u' shaped metal loops. They physically remove the top layer of film that gathers on the tongue. In Ayurvedic school of thought, this layer is called "ama," a toxic residue that's triggered by incomplete digestion.
Modern medicine shows that the foul-smelling bacteria produce volatile sulfuric compounds (VSC) toward the back of the tongue. Think of the rotten egg smell, or a barnyard odor. These are considered VSC, and in the case of your mouth, account for up to 80 percent of all bad breath.
When first starting tongue scraping, people may experience some discomfort. It will likely smell rather nasty, too. But there's an upside: your tongue will be rid of much of the debris and dead cells that often linger there.
Good vs. bad bacteria
Your mouth is full of bacteria. Admittedly, it sounds gross, but it's actually a good thing, There are hundreds of species of beneficial bacteria that keep your mouth clean and prevent oral health problems. While tongue scraping won't make your mouth antiseptic, it can substantially improve your oral health.
If you don't want to go out of your way to buy a tongue scraper, Dr. Claire recommends using a piece of floss or brushing the back of your tongue. Some dentists even believe that it should become a part of the normal oral hygiene routine, along with flossing, brushing and rinsing. If you're in the market for a clinically proven way to eliminate awful breath, be sure to check out TheraBreath Oral Rinse.
"A mechanical means (tooth brush, tooth flossing and tongue brushing or scraping) of removing plaque, food debris and excess bacteria is the best way to maintain oral health and a healthy oral micro flora," Dr. Claire elaborated to the source.