Tongue Scraping – A Healthy Habit

Tongue Scraper made from copper

Tongue Scraper made from copper

The first time I ever engaged in tongue scraping pretty much sealed the deal, I knew there was no going back. I was going to do this every day for the rest of my life.
Now, if you don't know what tongue scraping is, or why you might be even remotely interested in it, let me ask you something. Would you be willing eat something for breakfast every day that you knew was loaded with bacteria? And I'm not talking about the beneficial, gut-friendly bacteria that you find in healthy fermented foods like yogurt. I'm talking about the kind of bacteria that smells bad, and makes you sick.

So, back to my question. Smelly bacteria for breakfast? Umm, not so appetizing? Actually, my answer to the question would have been something along the lines of, “oh gross, no way!”. If you too answered firmly in the negative, you might want to get into the habit of scraping your tongue.

Tongue scraping involves using a long, thin, flat piece of metal, which is bent in the shape of a ‘U', to scrape the surface of your tongue. It doesn't hurt at all. You scrape firmly, but gently by dragging the scraper from the back of your tongue to the front. The effect is similar to using a rake to scrape the cut grass off of a lawn. Only in the case of your tongue, what you scrape off is bacteria. Probably hundreds of thousands of them. So many in fact, that you can see them, even though you would need a microscope to see each individual bacteria.

You know how everyone has bad smelling ‘morning breath'? Well, it's mostly caused by these bacteria that are hanging out on your tongue. So when you use a tongue scraper (also called a tongue cleaner), you literally scrape the bacteria up and dispose of them by rinsing them down the sink. Because if you don't, guess what? They go right down the hatch with your morning coffee, or juice or whatever you have for breakfast. Yuck.

So isn't brushing your teeth in the mornings before you eat enough? No. It's great if you do that, because the bacteria are also on your teeth, so you are washing those bacteria away. But even if you brush your tongue with your toothbrush, it's hard to do as good a job as you can with a tongue scraper. Besides, if you see what's coming off your tongue every morning it provides really powerful incentive to do it again tomorrow morning.

So where do you get a tongue scraper? I got mine from a local health food shop. But I was lucky, because they are usually hard to find. The last one I had to get from a friend who was traveling back to China. I found some on Amazon, and here's a link to the one that looks the most like mine. The style I've got works really well, and I can't recommend any of the other styles simply because I've not tried them.

Tongue scrapers are really inexpensive, and the ones I've had have lasted for years. I got my first one over 20 years ago, and I'm now on my third. I hang mine in the holder right next to my toothbrush. I even bring it with me when I go backpacking.

If you think you might like to start the day with your tongue feeling fresh and clean instead of furry and stale, try a tongue scraper.

Where to get tongue scrapers
If you can't find them locally, or just want to know what you're looking for, here are 2 recommended models of tongue scrapers. A metal one and a plastic one.

Metal Tongue Scraper from Amazon
Plastic Tongue Scraper from Amazon

DISCLAIMER: The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information and statements found here are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your medical professional.

4 Responses to “Tongue Scraping – A Healthy Habit”

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  1. Babssays:

    great idea. used to do this in UK (the tongue cleaning thing) but not with a scraper but with a plastic thingy from Supermarket. Think I will get proper one now! Very wise advice!

  2. Donnasays:

    Great question Cam, thank you! Brushing your tongue is a great habit too, I used to do that before I got my tongue scraper. I’m not sure exactly what the difference would be. I know with the tongue scraper I’m able to scrape a bit harder and more thoroughly than with brushing because brushing my tongue tickled a bit around the edges, LOL. With the tongue scraper it pretty thoroughly scrapes off a bunch of stuff. But a toothbrush is likely to get into the little nooks and crannies better as long as you can do it thoroughly enough. If I remember tomorrow morning I’ll try brushing my tongue first, then I’ll scrape it and see if I get anything substantial or if the brushing pretty much got the same gunk off.

  3. Donnasays:

    I did! So brushing my tongue removed most of the yucky stuff, I’d guess about 80%. I think the tongue scraper is good in addition to brushing because it can get way at the back of your throat without making you gag. I couldn’t get my toothbrush back that far. It’s also a bit faster too, I thought they would be about the same, but I think tongue scraping is just slightly quicker. But after doing both, wow my tongue looked and felt really fresh, more so than usual even. So I think I’m going do both from now on. But I’ll reverse the order, so I’ll scrape my tongue first and then brush it when I brush my teeth, which I do first thing in the morning anyway, just after scraping my tongue.

    Thanks again for a great question Cam, it lead to an interesting experiment and I’ll change my habits because of it… for the better of course 🙂

    • Donnasays:

      Hi Cam, I’m so sorry I missed your comment and just found it. I love the tongue scraper I’ve got now, but I think they are locally made (here in NZ). But here’s a metal one on Amazon that looks good, it’s the same style as the one I use, and has high ratings: Stainless Steel Tongue Cleaner. I know someone who has also been tongue scraping for years, has tried both metal and plastic tongue scrapers and likes this one the best of all: Tongue Cleaner Cobalt Blue Plastic, so that comes highly recommended.