As anyone with a mouth (who loves coffee and garlic (though not together)) will tell you, naturally fresh breath isn’t terribly easy to come by. I brush and floss two times a day, I drink loads of water, and I’ve started cutting back on sugar, but I still can’t kick the feeling that my mouth is just a swampy mess. That is, until I started looking into natural remedies. In Ayurvedic and holistic circles, I kept seeing “tongue scraping” as a borderline-miracle cure. The Chopra Center claims that “this ancient practice helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of the body, improve digestion by increasing your sense of taste, and cleanse the body by removing Ama [the Ayurvedic term for any accumulation of toxic residue in the mind-body] and bacteria from your oral cavity”. An ancient Ayurvedic practice that has great health claims, only takes a few seconds to do, and the instruments involved are incredibly affordable. Why wouldn’t I try it?
Fans of tongue scraping (and I’ve discovered there are many) claim that the process removes toxins on your tongue better than a toothbrush does. I’ve simply found that, while I’m still waiting on the mind-body epiphany promised me by some of the more grandiose claims, it’s safe to say I’m a convert. Almost immediately I began experiencing an all-around fresher, healthier-feeling mouth that lasted longer throughout the day.
Why does it work though? It’s certainly not magic—Ayurveda has historical roots in a medical practice that even skeptics admit is “protoscientific”. And while many of the more well-known Ayurvedic methodologies—like oil pulling—are either lauded by fans or derided by detractors, I think the benefits I’ve seen from tongue scraping are simply common sense. I’m physically removing the mucus (gross), coating (yuck) and debris (nope) that accumulates in my mouth throughout the day and night, so all that gross stuff which normally becomes midday snacks for bacteria’s stinky-breath parties on my tongue become scarce. Less bacteria = a fresher mouth.
I found a copper tongue scraper on Amazon that is naturally antimicrobial and went to town on my tongue. The scraper, made by the punnily-named TruthPaste, only cost $10 and was made from 100% copper. To use it, I rinse my mouth with cold water, hold the tongue scraper in both hands, and pull the instrument from back to front along the surface of my tongue 8-12 times.
Dear reader, I won’t lie to you: The process is gnarly. Some people report setting off their gag reflex when using this, but it might just be people’s reactions to seeing all the gunk that comes off of our tongues. It’s… upsetting. But! The more I’ve used my scraper the less stuff I find at the end of the day.
So, should you be tongue scraping? I say, if you have the $10, the 40 seconds to do it, and a strong constitution—absolutely.
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