Ever since I was a young child growing up closely with my grandparents, I picked up some age-old traditions and one of which was using a tongue scraper after brushing my teeth morning and night. I thought it was perfectly normal until I realised that none of my western friends used it! So out of embarrassment, I stopped for a short period and my routine felt really incomplete; so what was the purpose of a tongue scraper, and why was I brought up using one? Well bacteria does not just accumulate on our teeth, on the contrary, what about the rest of our oral cavity? our gums and tongue, and throat for that matter?
Overnight bacteria and toxins (ama) build up and are deposited on the tongue from the process of digestion. It has been suggested that various types of digestive and respiratory problems can result from the ingestion and reabsorption of this waste material that should rather be expelled from the body.
Cleaning the surface of the tongue is an important part of daily oral hygiene along with brushing, flossing the teeth and retaining oil in the mouth (sometimes referred to as oil pulling). Gently scraping the tongue from the back to the front first thing in the morning can reduce the accumulation of toxic and bacterial substances which can lead to bad breath and disturbed digestion. This quick and easy ritual can eliminate the white or sometimes yellow coating found on the tongue as well as enhance the function of taste buds which stimulates the oral enzymes (the key sensory organ in digestion). According to Ayurveda, a healthy tongue should be pink in colour and free from any coating. Our tongue is the guidebook of our digestion, it can really tell us what is going on in there.
So next time you wake up to brush your teeth, check out your tongue too, is there stickiness or a coating? Maybe it’s time to add a tongue scraper to your routine.