Dental health may not be the sexiest topic in wellness (personally, I'd much rather be reading up on the benefits of CBD and how to get abs), but it is an important one. Much of the attention goes toward getting brighter teeth and moisturized lips, and we tend to ignore one of the most important factors in our health: the tongue.
I'm not just talking about dental health, either. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners actually swear by a person's tongue as an indicator for their general wellness, too. I once attended an acupuncture appointment in which the first question the acupuncturist asked me was, "Can I see your tongue?" After reluctantly sticking it out, wondering if making this appointment had been a mistake, I learned that the color and texture of one's tongue is believed to help diagnose certain health conditions, like insomnia or anxiety.
Whether you buy into that analysis or not, your tongue should be taken care of just as well as any other part of your body. Beyond flossing and using a proper toothpaste, many experts advise adding a tongue scraper to your routine, which is a tool that—you guessed it—is meant to scrape your tongue free of bacteria and buildup.
I've seen this tool all over Instagram recently, and we've discussed it at length in our secret Facebook Group, but do tongue scrapers actually make much of a difference in our health? I turned to my go-to dental expert, Kevin Sands, DDS, for his input. Keep reading for four surprising reasons you should add this tool to your wellness routine.
Reduces Buildup on the Tongue
This benefit is the number one reason for using a tongue scraper in the first place. Think of all the things that pass through your mouth on a daily basis: coffee, food, alcohol, etc. Tongue scrapers remove all the gunk that builds up on the surface. "Your tongue and the little grooves and taste buds in it over time get a coat of buildup on it with yucky things like bacteria and residue. The process of using the scraper removes these bacteria and buildup on the tongue," explains Sands. Trust us: Once you try tongue scraping once and notice all the gunk that you remove, you'll never go back.
If you're constantly popping sticks of gum in your mouth to make up for the three cups of coffee you had earlier, listen up. Tongue scrapers are amazing tools for freshening breath. Like we mentioned before, scrapers remove bacteria from your tongue that can result in an odor. To be clear, it won't cure chronic halitosis (consistent bad breath), so if you want to feel fresh throughout the day, you'll want to scrape after every meal.
Better Sense of Taste
After you start a tongue-scraping routine, expect your foods to taste a whole lot better. Sands says you'll experience a "better sense of taste since you are cleaning your taste buds." I mean, if you're going for the slice of pizza, you're going to want to really enjoy it, right?
All right, we're sold. But if you're wondering why you can't just use your toothbrush to the same effect, take Sands's advice: "One can use a toothbrush if there is no other option, but a tongue scraper is designed to be a better fit for the shape of the tongue and covers more surface area. Also, the bristles of the brush can definitely be too rough for some folks to use".
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This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.