Why and How to Clean Your Tongue

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - 1045373

By cleaning your tongue regularly, you can prevent bad breath and support good dental hygiene. If you don’t have a special tongue scraper at home, there are some home remedies you can use instead. We’ll look at how to clean your tongue and why it’s important. 

How to Clean Your Tongue: Scraper vs. Brush

cleaning tongue
If you don’t have a tongue scraper or brush, you can also use your toothbrush to clean your tongue. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Karolina Grabowska )

In order to clean your tongue, it’s best to go out and get a specific product, such as this metal tongue scraper on Amazon**. You can also check out your local drug or grocery store.

While a tongue scraper primarily loosens the upper layer of the tongue coating, a brush reaches into the deeper areas. The results of a 2019 study show that tongue scrapers are slightly more effective than tongue brushes, though they both remove the tongue coating. This is also beneficial because tongue scrapers are made of metal, meaning they’re recyclable. Tongue brushes, on the other hand, are usually made with plastic.

Using a tongue scraper is easy: simply place the scraper as far back as possible on the tongue and then pull it forward towards the tip with gentle pressure. Depending on the width of the scraper, you should use it several times to ensure you clean the entire tongue

Four Alternatives to Tongue Scrapers

how to clean your tongue
Make your own tongue-cleaning mouthwash by adding salt, baking soda, or herbal tinctures to a glass of water. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Leopold Böttcher)

If you don’t have a special tongue scraper handy, you can help keep your tongue clean and healthy with the following home remedies:

  • Hard Foods: Chewing hard foods such as raw fruits and vegetables or bread (with crust) will scrape and loosen the coating from your tongue. This also reduces bacteria in the mouth.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda and baking powder have a neutralizing effect and remove food debris from the tongue. Just mix half a teaspoon of baking soda or baking powder in a glass of water and rinse your mouth thoroughly with it.
  • Salt Water: Rinsing your mouth with salty water is also an effective way to clean your tongue. To make a simple saline solution, dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water, rinse your mouth for about 30 seconds and then spit the water out.
  • Herbal Tinctures: Sage, myrrh, and thyme are said to have antibacterial properties that help kill germs on the tongue. Think of it as natural mouthwash. Simply add one or two drops into a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth with it. Alternatively, (cooled) sage tea can also be used for cleaning your tongue.

Why Cleaning Your Tongue is Important

Did you know that there are about 700 different species of microorganisms living in your oral cavity right now? Food residues and dead cells get stuck on the rough surface of your tongue, creating an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The build-up of bacteria is visible as a white coating on the surface of your tongue. 

To make it worse, poor oral hygiene cannot only be seen, but also smelled. Most cases of bad breath originate in the oral cavity, not the stomach. If you’re suffering from bad breath, you can combat it by cleaning your tongue regularly. 

Ayurveda medicine (an ancient Indian healing art), teaches that daily tongue cleaning contributes to the detoxification of the body, improves taste buds, and boosts digestion. That being said, only the improved digestion power has been scientifically supported so far. The results of a 2018 study showed that ‘digestive fire’ and general oral health can be aided through tongue cleaning. 

Note: To effectively clean the tongue, all studies used a special tongue scraper. The effectiveness of the home remedies above has not been scientifically proven.

This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Zunge reinigen: Mit diesen Hausmitteln wird sie sauber

Important Information regarding Health-related Topics.

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