You might consider a tongue scraper to be at the top of a list entitled "ridiculous fads." To be honest, until recently, I dismissed them as the same. However, after much research, I now use one every day.
What is a tongue scraper?
Well, a tongue scraper is an instrument that gets to the back of your tongue to remove the white stuff that builds up overnight. Gross, yes — but that’s exactly why we should get rid of it. While we may think of the tongue scraper as some wacky contraption, author and Ayurveda fan Jasmine Hemsley says that tongue scraping has always been a hugely important part of Eastern well-being. "In traditional Chinese medicine, your tongue is a map of your health," she says. "It’s a practice that’s so normal in India that mothers tell their children to scrape their tongues over brushing their teeth."
But why do we need one? "Overnight, your body gets rid of toxins," explains Hemsley, "And if you look at your tongue, you’ll see this white or sometimes yellowy furry build-up. If you don’t get rid of it, then you’ll absorb the toxins back into your body. However in Eastern countries, they’ll instead use a tongue scraper to remove it." Can’t using a toothbrush suffice? "No," says Hemsley. "You need something hard to remove it."
Shabir Daya, co-founder of well-being website victoriahealth.com says, "We have a combination of bacteria in the mouth. Anaerobic bacteria can sit at the back of the tongue where the fissures are deeper — they sit and eat away at food, which also release gases." This explains "morning breath," which can be worse depending on your health, habits, and diet. Therefore, it makes total sense to get rid of it.
I’ve seen a few tongue scrapers lately. The best are copper, which has antibacterial qualities. The device is a U-shaped piece of copper ribbon that you hold with both hands, place at the back of the tongue, and scrape forward. "I tend to scrape once down the middle and once on each side of the tongue," Hemsley says. You’ll notice the white gunk coming off with each scrape. Do it first thing.
It seems tongue scraping is far better for our oral hygiene than bacteria-blitzing mouthwash. "It’s important to keep the microbiome of the mouth in check," says Daya, "It’s important to keep the good bacteria present for the mouth to function optimally." The benefits don’t just stop at better breath, says Daya: "Saliva function improves, which is the start of good digestion. People find they taste their food better."
This week, I’m on vacation and have left my tongue scraper behind. I actually miss it — a bit like I’d miss my toothbrush if I left it at home. For $10 and in just 10 seconds a day, I don’t know why I haven’t done this before. Try this one from Atmiko ($9.84, Amazon).
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Grazia.