How to Select And Use a Tongue Scraper For Better Oral Health

November 25, 2020 5 min read

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As we covered in another blog, there are many benefits to your oral health from tongue cleaning. But are all tongue cleaners alike? Can't one just use a toothbrush to scrub the tongue or even a kitchen spoon. Let's take a look.

How to Select And Use a Tongue Scraper For Better Oral Health               

A tongue scraper is a dental tool that removes excess bacteria, leftover food particles, and coating from a person's tongue and improves the quality of oral health. As we know, scraping your tongue could help maintain oral hygiene and improve bad breath in your mouth.

If you are worried about how to select and use a tongue scraper for better oral health, then you should choose the quality and right material for your tongue scraper. The material that you choose to make your tongue scraper determines how long it should be kept and how often you should clean it. If you have sensitive tongues, you can use a plastic scraper to clean them.

How to use a tongue scraper

Tongue scraping is a traditional Ayurvedic hygiene ritual that has been used for centuries. Although research is mixed on the effectiveness of tongue scraping, it should not be considered a replacement for other forms of hygiene such as flossing and brushing. However, many people suffering from halitosis or "coated tongue" are using tongue scrappers to avoid bad breath and gum diseases.

 

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Are you ready to start scraping? Tongue scraping is easy.

 

  • Use gentle pressure to place the scraper on your tongue.
  • Move slowly but steadily, from the back to the front in one motion.
  • Repeat the process several times with warm water
  • Are you curious if tongue scraping can cause damage to your taste buds? Use it gently, and there is no need to worry. However, being aggressive could cause damage to the soft tissues.

 

There are numerous tongue cleaners to choose from, so finding one should not be a problem. Here are some options:

Using a toothbrush instead of a tongue scraper:

Yes, you can use your toothbrush to give the surface of your tongue a light scrub. But this should only be used when nothing else is available. While a toothbrush is better than nothing, studies have shown that they are not as effective as using an actual tongue cleaner. One clinical study showed that a tongue cleaner reduced VSC levels (Volatile Sulfur Compounds–the main driver of bad breath) by 75% while using a toothbrush to clean the tongue only reduced levels by 45%. That is a big difference. (Note: in a pinch you can even use a kitchen spoon, but as tongue scrapers are pretty inexpensive, just buy one) 

Copper tongue scrapers:

These are very popular in Ayurvedic medicine. This is due to the property of copper to inhibit bacterial growth. For centuries copper has been used where it was important to inhibit bacterial growth, such as water containers. Other studies suggest that copper is used naturally within our bodies to fight microbes and pathogens. While this makes copper a great choice for a tongue scraper, there are some potential downsides.

  • One, they are more expensive than other scrapers.
  • Two, the copper tends to break down more quickly and so they require replacement more often.
  • Three, they do tend to have a “taste” that not everyone agrees with.
  • And finally, with other developments in natural dental care the antibacterial property may not be as important as it was in olden times.

Plastic tongue scrapers:

while cheap and easy to carry, these are our least favorite option if for no other reason than they are environmentally wasteful.

  • In terms of tongue scraping, the plastic material generally means that they have to be designed in a spoon shape rather than a gentle blade. This shape is not as effective for scraping and also tends to collect bacteria, so as you clean (it takes several passes over the tongue) you are likely to spread the bacteria back again!
  • Plus, since they are made of a softer material than metal, they are more likely to get nicks or rough edges–a definite "no" when it comes to your tongue. 
  • They also have a tendency to get kind of “gunky” after a while and so need to be replaced quite often.

Other than the fact that they might feel gentler on your tongue, there is no good reason to buy a plastic model.

Stainless steel tongue scrapers:

These are by far our favorites. Just be sure to buy a quality model that is made from surgical stainless steel as they last longer and feel better on your tongue. Also look to see that they have a gentle curve to the blade so as not to irritate the delicate bumps, papillae, on your tongue. Since stainless steel is so hard, it is very unlikely to develop any irregularities with use that might injure your tongue. It is by far the longest lasting material and so this one is the more economical choice over time.

Before looking at how to choose tongue scrapers, it’s important to know the difference between copper and stainless-steel tongue scrappers.

copper tongue scraper vs. stainless steel

If you are searching for an antimicrobial tongue scraper, then a copper tongue scraper is the ideal choice. This may not be an important consideration, but many people prefer copper because of its natural antimicrobial qualities. It is important to dry the copper tongue scraper completely after each use. However, some people report tarnishing after a few months despite following the care instructions.

 You have many options when searching for a stainless-steel tongue scraper. These scrapers are made of surgical-grade stainless but are not inherently antibacterial.

Both of these scrappers work well to clean your tongue, but Stainless-steel tongue scrapers tend to be less expensive than copper ones and don't tarnish as much. The durable material can last for many years with proper care. It is also safe and non-toxic when made from medical-grade metal.

These scrapers are typically more durable than plastic ones. You can clean your entire tongue with just one pass if you are careful. However, it is possible to do more than one. If you keep them clean, stainless steel and copper tongue scrapers will last for years.

 

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Where to buy tongue scrapper 

There are many options available for tongue scrapers, but if you want to shop for a branded, Ergonomically Designed Tongue Cleaner, Then Great oral health will be your first choice. They offer two types of tongue scrapers, one made of surgical-grade stainless and one made of food-grade copper. They are both highest standards and can withstand years of use.

 

A note on the handles or grip. 

It is best to purchase a tongue scraper that has grooves or some arrangement on the handle to make them easy to grip. And you should only buy a tongue cleaner that is one solid piece. Those metal scrapers with plastic handles are not preferable as they tend to collect bacteria in the handles–yuck factor alert.

Finally, the edge of the blade is pretty important. What you want is a clean, even surface that is just the right balance between “scraping edge” and gentle “curve” so that you can clean off the debris and bacteria without irritating your tongue.

Ok, time to go buy a tongue cleaner and get on the road to fresher breath, fewer cavities and better oral health. And while you are searching for a tongue cleaner, be sure to check out our surgical-grade, stainless steel tongue cleaner that was designed by our holistic dentist.


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