Is Tongue Scraping A Good Idea?

Dental hygiene products are constantly evolving in an effort to improve everyone’s oral health. When new products become popular, you may wonder if it would benefit your health to add them to your routine. In the case of cleaning your tongue, you have likely heard that it is a good idea, and there are even rubber tongue cleaners attached to the heads of some toothbrushes. However, there is a different product on the market used to clean your tongue that you may have heard about: a tongue scraper. In today’s blog, your Richfield, MN, dentist will share information about how a tongue scraper can potentially improve your oral health so that you can decide if it would be a good addition to your routine.

What Are Tongue Scrapers For?

Tongue scraping is meant to help clean your tongue for two main reasons:

  1. To help your breath smell better (aid in getting rid of halitosis, or bad breath) and
  2. To rid your mouth of harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gingivitis.

To get rid of bad breath, the tongue scraper is said to help you clean off the volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that stick to your tongue and cause bad odors. It also is supposed to get rid of bacteria the same way, by scraping it off of your tongue before it can move to your teeth and gums and cause you to need restorative care. While both of these results would make some amount of sense, as a cleaner tongue should equal a cleaner, healthier mouth overall, not all research supports these theories.

The Results Are Inconclusive

There have been several studies conducted to see if tongue scraping is as beneficial as some think it to be. Unfortunately, many of these studies only sampled a very small number of people, which means that the results of such studies are not necessarily correct. Plus, many studies contradict each other, with one saying that brushing your tongue reduces bacteria while using a tongue scraper doesn’t, one saying that brushing or scraping a child’s tongue both reduced bacteria, and one saying that neither brushing nor scraping tongues helps to reduce bacteria. Furthermore, some evidence has been found that tongue scrapers can remove the coating on your tongue, but it’s up in the air whether or not they reduce VSCs, as some studies say they do while others say the evidence is weak or inconclusive.

Are They Dangerous?

The good news is that there are few to no dangers associated with trying tongue scraping. If you use a tongue scraper and your tongue begins to hurt or bleed, that means there is probably either a defect with your scraper causing it to have a sharp or jagged edge, or that you have a condition that makes your tongue more sensitive. If this happens, you should stop using the scraper and talk to your dentist as soon as possible so that they can help you figure out what is going on. Otherwise, it should be safe to try tongue scraping if you want to!

More Questions? Ask Us!

If you have any questions about tongue scraping or any other potential additions to your oral health routine, or if you are due for a checkup and cleaning, schedule a visit with Dr. Keller by calling Cedar West Family Dentistry in Richfield, MN, today at (612) 861-7188.