How This Helps

Do you feel embarrassed when people turn their faces away from you because of your bad breath problem? Inadequate dental hygiene can give rise to various dental issues, including bad breath. One must make sure to maintain good oral health to fight numerous dental problems. Tongue scraping is also one of the most critical factors that can help maintain good oral hygiene. According to Ayurveda, toxins can not only cause bad breath but also cause obstructions in respiration. The coating they create can hinder our ability to taste, clouding this sense organ, and even creating unhealthy cravings. Ayurveda believes the tongue a street map of the whole body, with each section corresponding to a different organ. As soon as we scratch the tongue, it is like giving our inner organs a gentle nudge. The tongue's back region corresponds with the colon, so scraping that region stimulates peristalsis. It is advisable to scrape your tongue first thing in the morning, before drinking water. Use either a stainless steel or aluminum tongue scraper. Stick out your tongue and let it be loose. Work the tongue scraper back to front a few times, rinsing the scraper tool after each round. Follow with brushing, flossing, and a large glass of warm or room temperature water. Drinking warm water first thing gives a gentle flush to the GI tract and the kidneys, and also stimulates peristalsis. After a couple of weeks, you will find a substantial difference. Your mouth will feel fuller, and your taste buds more living.

Ayurvedic self care: tongue scraping

Tongue scraping is a method that involves scraping your tongue with a special device or with a toothbrush to remove the excessive plaque formed on the tongue. Scraping or brushing the surface of the tongue is known to serve as an excellent tool for reducing various kinds of mutans streptococci and other oral microorganisms. It has also been found that there is a continuous shedding of cells on the surface layer of tongue epithelium and palate. This is why an individual should practice tongue scraping to maintain good oral hygiene.

Tongue cleaning or scrapping has been in use since ancient times in India for its benefits in maintaining good oral hygiene and reducing bad breath problems. Usage of a tongue cleaner or scrapper not only promotes good oral hygiene but also supports the overall health and wellbeing of an individual. Tongue scraping is among the most overlooked Ayurvedic practices, but one which can go a long way toward your general health and wellbeing. Here's why.

As the body processes everything that was consumed the day before, toxins (called Ama in Ayurveda) start to form and can be seen as tongue coating on the surface. It is going to appear as a thick, white coat if the Ama is more Kapha type. Pitta ama will be yellow, and Vata ama is brownish.  Scraping off the coating first thing in the morning prevents reabsorption of these toxins your body worked hard to expel.

Ayurveda's recommendation of tongue scraping is often overlooked. There are numerous advantages to this daily practice so far as oral health and general physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing. Since the nasal cavity is one of the principal gateways between your mind/body and the environment, maintaining the health of the connection is vital to general wellbeing. Tongue scraping, or jihwa prakshalana, is a standard part of Ayurvedic self-care as well as a cute way to check in with your body daily. See the color of the coat in addition to the quantity. It can be a clear indication as to whether or not your body has been able to digest the food properly from the previous day.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for constipation relief

Why do you need to scrape your tongue?

Why is it good to scrape your tongue?

- Tongue scraping daily prevents bad breath.

- Stimulates the internal organs and enhances the taste buds.- Scraping your tongue promotes overall oral and digestive health.

- It reduces the growth of various harmful bacteria on the tongue. It also removes layers of dead cells that are formed over the tongue.

What happens if you do not scrape your tongue?

People who do not use tongue scraper can face issues related to poor oral hygiene like:

- Weakening of the gums due to bacterial overgrowth altering the composition of saliva.

- Saliva is secreted in the mouth, which also acts as a defense system of our body. It protects harmful bacteria from entering the body. Thus excessive debris on the tongue can make the body vulnerable to bacterial attack.

- It may affect your teeth, where it slowly starts to disintegrate, causing dental cavities.

So in case if you want to maintain good oral health and overall health, try scraping your tongue from today onwards.

See: Yoga For Digestion & Gut Health

Health benefits of scraping tongue

- Improves taste- Several research studies have shown that the use of tongue scraper twice a day can help enhance the taste of food. Using a tongue scraper can increase the ability of Your Tongue to distinguish between several kinds of tastes like sweet, bitter, salty, and sour sensations.1.

- Improve the tongue appearance: Excess debris over the tongue can make it look white-coated instead of light pink. Daily use of tongue scraper removes the white coating and improves the appearance of your tongue .1.

- Removal of bacterias: Use of tongue scraper twice a day for about seven days Can help reduce the overall incidence of Mutants like streptococci and Lactobacilli bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria are responsible for causing bad breath and dental decay.2.

- Improvement of overall health: Tongue scraping can wade off the bacterial growth, which in turn prevents cavities, various gum diseases, and several other conditions that can affect the oral health of an individual.3.

- Reduction of bad breath: Accumulated debris on the tongue due to food and dead cells may promote bacterial growth. These bacteria decompose the waste, and the process emits a foul smell responsible for causing bad breath. This shows how important tongue scraping can be in removing this bacteria from top of the tongue .1,2

Many scientific studies have also proved that daily use of a tongue scraper can help in a significant reduction in the microbial growth that occurs due to the plaque formation on the tongue. This, in turn, can help promote good oral hygiene and oral health. Just like brushing your teeth is a daily routine, similarly, adapt using a tongue scraper daily to maintain good oral hygiene.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for constipation relief

How to scrape your tongue

How to Scrape Your Tongue

The tongue should be lightly scraped from back to front for 7 to 10 strokes. The scraper could be rinsed off between strokes when there's a whole lot of accumulation. Some individuals report stimulation of the gag reflex during scratching, which might indicate that the scratching is overly aggressive. If it occurs with gentle scratching, start slightly more forward on the tongue to prevent the gagging reflex.


- A Daily Practice: From an Ayurvedic perspective, tongue scraping ought to be carried out on a daily basis. This ancient practice will help to stimulate the internal organs through vital connections with the rest of the body, enhance digestion by increasing your sense of taste and cleansing the body by eliminating Ama and bacteria from the oral cavity. Additionally, it increases the clarity of the brain by reducing heaviness and Ama in the head. If your physical and emotional bodies are balanced, it lets you expand your spiritual awakening also.

The tongue is the mirror into each of the organs of the body, and so, a daily look at the tongue before scratching gives you a hint to your overall health. In Ayurveda, a fantastic tongue examination is a practical method of assessing the health of the whole body. When you examine your tongue, it is an opportunity for self-awareness, where you can reflect on the options of the past several days, months, or years and determine how those choices have affected your health. If a thick coating is noticed, you're accumulating toxicity. By noting this, it provides you the chance to become more self-conscious and create new, healthier choices.

Ayurvedic view of tongue scraping: People who wash their tongue on a daily basis can affirm the invigorating effects this practice has. Removing the coating and stimulating the tongue helps to balance the heavy Kapha dosha qualities on your physiology. Scraping the tongue every day eliminates any build-up on the tongue, which, if left untreated, may result in bad breath and might house a significant number of bacteria. This simple practice is a direct means of eliminating Ama from your own physiology. In Ayurveda, Ama describes some accumulation of toxic residue from the mind-body. This could result from improper eating, poor digestion, or a manifestation of an imbalance somewhere in the gastrointestinal system.

In addition, from an Ayurvedic perspective, by eliminating this coating, you improve your ability to taste your food, making it more satisfying.  Lots of the valuable phytonutrients that your food contains are interpreted by the receptors on the tongue. You want to enhance this communication between your diet and your body by eliminating any coating that's interfering with that link. Additionally, many herbs have their favorable effects from the first contact with receptors on the tongue. Hence, you want a clear tongue to obtain this nutritious information.

- Keratin Balance: Western Medicine is also starting to acknowledge the coating on the tongue as an indicator of health issues.  A coated tongue is a clue to the keratin imbalance, according to the AAOMP (American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology). Under normal conditions, the quantity of keratin generated and the amount which is removed is balanced. When the diet is too soft or due to some other reasons, keratin can accumulate. When bacteria grow with this layer of keratin, it may result in discoloration of the coat.

It's easy to understand how a nutritious diet that is made up of plant roughage and fiber and in which food isn't overcooked or too soft will help maintain this balance. It is, therefore, essential to get healthy food in your diets, such as fiber from fresh produce and whole grains, and nuts and seeds. When you integrate an Ayurvedic view of health within this image, you have a heightened awareness of how this coating can ultimately influence many facets of your physical and psychological wellbeing.


See: Ayurvedic Diet

What type of tongue scraper to use?

Which tongue scraper to use?

Ayurvedic Charaka Samhita says that "tongue scrapers should be made from silver, gold, copper, tin, and brass and must be non-sharp and curved, so as to not injure the tongue." Widely available stainless steel scrapers are fine as well.


See: Panchakarma

Precautions & side effects of tongue scraping

Amongst the largest concerns about tongue scraping is the stimulation of the gag reflex. This gag reflex could make you vomit while tongue scraping. To prevent this, refrain from putting the scraper too far back on your tongue. When you first begin scraping, you might find it beneficial to scrape from the center of your tongue to the tip. You may gradually start from further back as you get accustomed to the sensation. Additionally, it is possible to inadvertently cut the surface of your tongue with the scraper.

See: Is yogurt good for acid reflux & heartburn

References

1. Winnier, J. & Rupesh, S. (2016). Tongue cleaning methods: A Review. Advances in Health Sciences Education. 03. 141-146. 

2. Winnier, J., Rupesh S, Nayak UA, Reddy V, Prasad Rao A. The comparative evaluation of the effects of tongue cleaning on existing plaque levels in children. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2013;6(3):188–192. DOI:10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1216

3. Van Gils LM, Slot DE, Van der Sluijs E, Hennequin-Hoenderdos NL, Van der Weijden FG. Tongue coating in relationship to gender, plaque, gingivitis, and Tongue cleaning behavior in systemically healthy young adults. Int J Dent Hyg. 2020;18(1):62–72. DOI:10.1111/idh.12416.

4. Matsui M, Chosa N, Shimoyama Y, Minami K, Kimura S, Kishi M. Effects of tongue cleaning on bacterial flora in tongue coating & dental plaque: a crossover study. BMC Oral Health. 2014;14:4. Published 2014 Jan 14. DOI:10.1186/1472-6831-14-4

5. Gonçalves ACS, Martins MCN, Paula BL, Weckwerth PH, Franzolin SOB, Silveira EMV. A new technique for tongue brushing and halitosis reduction: the X technique. J Appl Oral Sci. 2019;27:e20180331. Published 2019 Apr 1. DOI:10.1590/1678-7757-2018-0331

See: Ayurveda treatment for GERD and Acidity

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