Imagine your skiing …you’ve geared up - ready to tackle the hills. You’re set! But wait. As you step outside, you suddenly realize you have an itch… and it’s deep down… buried beneath all your ski clothes. And every attempt to reach that the itch fails. Defeated, you realize the only relief is to remove each one of those layers. Where are we going with this?!
We’re going inside your mouth, to your tongue – this is a dental blog, after all! Because whether you know it or not, your tongue is also “all geared up” – buried beneath layers of bacteria, fungi, and food residue that can inhibit your ability to taste, and cause your tongue to appear various shades of white, green, or even black! Remove the bacteria, though, and your food will once again directly interact with those taste buds and return to its natural color. Pink. So how does one do that? With a tongue scraper, of course!
WHAT is a tongue scraper?
A tongue scraper is a U-shaped device designed to “scrape” the top layer of scum from your tongue. They have been in use since ancient times and have been made of everything from wood to whalebone. Nowadays, they are made of more hygienic material, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and colors.
WHY use a tongue scraper?
The residue on your tongue includes things like the cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans bacterium, fungi, rotting food (that’s not good), and what’s referred to as “volatile sulfur compounds.” In other words, sulfur – that “rotting egg smell.” Here’s four benefits to using a tongue scraper:
• Reduce bad breath – Regularly removing the gunk we talked about above can reduce bad breath.
• Reduce your risk of periodontal disease and cavities: Bad bacteria contribute to plaque and tartar on teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities. Bacteria build-up can also lead to inflammation of gum tissue (gingivitis). If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which means a more expensive dental visit (plus other unwanted consequences!). Speaking of avoiding an expensive dental visit, when was the last time you came in to see us? Come see us now if it’s been awhile, by requesting one here.
• Make room for good bacteria – Not all bacteria is bad!
• Prevent heart disease and diabetes – While the debate is still up in the air, some studies suggest there could be a correlation between gum disease, heart disease, and diabetes.
HOW does one use a tongue scraper?
In general, make sure to rinse your tongue scraper before and after use. Apply the tongue scraper to the back of your tongue and drag it forward. Then, rinse and repeat. Make sure to get the sides of your tongue as well, not just the center! Make sure not to press too hard or you can cause yourself to bleed.
Should you scrape your tongue while recovering from a dental procedure?
Ask your dentist for the best advice particular to your situation. Still not sure how this thing really works? The next time you’re in ask Dr. Hale for a quick tutorial!
WHERE do I buy one?
Tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive and can also be found at any local drugstore or Amazon. It doesn’t matter the material, color, or brand – just find the one you like and get scraping!
Thanks for learning more about how to improve your dental care routine. If you have questions or concerns regarding this article, please email info@HaleDentistry.com