When I was little, I learned to brush my teeth morning and night with an action figure toothbrush and candy-flavored toothpaste. It became a right-of-passage to do so on my own. Yet, although I brushed flossed, and rinsed, I was skipping an important step in cleaning my entire mouth: tongue scraping. I first learned about tongue scraping from fellow YouVeda affiliate Sahara Rose’s book The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda. Now, my routine is incomplete without it! In this article: Ayurvedic Routines: Tongue Scraping, we talk about the benefits of Tongue Scraping.
Tongue scraping is an ancient Indian practice that is gaining attention in the West. Tongue scraping freshens the breath and promotes oral hygiene, but its benefits extend to overall health and wellbeing, too.
Oral Hygiene Benefits
Cleaning the mouth is necessary to remove the bad bacteria that causes bad breath, the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, tooth decay, and gum disease. Most of the bacteria are located on the back of the tongue. Just like within our gut, there are good and bad bacteria in the mouth. The good bacteria are a part of the natural flora and function to promote overall oral hygiene. Chemical-laden toothpaste and fluoride-filled mouthwashes disrupt the natural balance of the flora, which creates an imbalance in the microbiome that can lead to issues, including digestive disorders and a compromised immune system. Using a tongue scraper is a gentle, yet effective way, to remove the anaerobic bacteria that cause bad breath while maintaining the balance of beneficial bacteria.
Tongue Scraping to Improve Digestion
The tongue has been studied by Eastern medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda to discover imbalances in the body. Eastern practitioners often look at the tongue during consultations in the same way that Western doctors check blood pressure and weight. A coating on the tongue is reflective of the lining of the digestive system. When toxins are not removed from the body they begin to accumulate to areas like the tongue. Removing this build-up of toxins with a tongue scraper removes residue and stimulates the elimination processes.
Furthermore, different parts of the tongue correspond to different organs in the body. For example, the front left and right sides of the tongue represent the lungs while the back sides of the tongue represent the kidneys. Applying the gentle pressure of a tongue scraper cleanses the corresponding related organs and tissues, promoting overall internal health and helping to address areas of imbalance. To help improve your digestion, check out My Healthy Digestion.
Tongue Scraping as a Part of a Daily Routine
Ayurveda promotes having a consistent daily routine to incorporate physical, mental, and spiritual practices. It is recommended to perform tongue scraping as a part of a morning routine to remove toxins that have accumulated overnight, freshen the breath, and awaken the organs. Tongue scraping should be done on an empty stomach to reap the full benefits. The practice of tongue scraping is quite straightforward, simply hold the tongue scraper on both sides and scrape in downward motions from back to front for a total of 7-14 strokes.
Not all tongue scrapers are created equal. Opt for a metal scraper over a plastic scraper, and aim to purchase one that is large enough to span the width of the tongue in order to properly clear the entire coating. Ensure that you clean your tongue scraper after each use with hot, soapy water to prevent adding more bacteria to your mouth with a dirty tool.
From personal experience, I have seen the benefits of tongue scraping on a daily basis. I now don’t feel completely clean unless I do it! Like most Ayurvedic customs, tongue scraping is both a physical routine and a spiritual ritual. Many self-care practices are expensive and time-consuming for the average individual. Fortunately, tongue scraping is an easily accessible method to care for your mind and body.