What Is Tongue Scraping? This Self Care Trend Looks Gross, But Here's Why It Works

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2018 is the year I get my sh*t together guys, and that means all aspects of self-care have to be accounted for. Yeah, I’m working on my fitness, and I'm pampering myself a few times a week with face masks and bubble baths, but I’m especially focusing on my oral hygiene, too. It sounds sort of random, I know, but I stumbled upon this fancy microscopic brush also known as a tongue scraper, and I had to know, what is tongue scraping, and what sort of magic can this dingle-hopper of a non-toothbrush do for my mouth?

Obviously, I brush my teeth twice a day, and on occasion, thoroughly floss (probably not as often as I should be though, and shoutout to my dental hygienist for pointing that one out), but I had a feeling there was more I could be doing for my tongue, taste buds, and the serious morning breath my husband has the pleasure of smelling every morning. One of my favorite wellness influencers, Lee Tilghman (aka Lee From America), openly discussed her obsession with tongue scraping not too long ago, and I took it as a sign that I needed to try it for myself. I needed to start tongue scraping, and I needed to start now.

Why tongue scrape, you ask? Listen, I'll admit it definitely comes off as some voo-doo practice that looks hella painful but, really, I've come to find it's a gem of a self-care technique that makes your mouth feel amazing. But, if I've yet to persuade you, check out these six reasons why tongue scraping is the self-care hack you need in your life.

1It'll Make Your Breath Smell So Much Better

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News flash, friends: Our tongues are pink, not white. That thick coating of guck on your tongue when you wake up in the morning is rank AF, and it's the root cause of your breath being so embarrassingly stanky.

I’m not trying to be rude, by the way, but I am doing my best to stress how bad for you that layer of stuff is, because it’s not just leftovers; it’s actual bacteria buildup. Banyan Botanicals reports that, according to research, 85 to 90 percent of bad breath is caused by bacteria inside the mouth and on the back of the tongue, where it’s “drier than other parts of the mouth,” “poorly cleansed,” and where food, cells, and postnasal drip come to hang and bacteria feed. Delicious, right?

Tongue scraping will eliminate that bacteria, but you do have to make sure you're not just brushing mid tongue to the tip. Ideally, you should start as far back as comfortably possible, and scrape forward to push the unwanted coating off the tongue.

2Your Sense Of Taste Will Dramatically Improve

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Think of the white coating on your tongue like a blanket covering your taste buds: the heavier the blanket, the more your taste buds are weighed down and separated from the food you’re consuming. When your taste buds are blocked, every snack or meal seems less flavorful, and it’s not because your chicken wasn’t seasoned properly, or the barista made your vanilla chai latte particularly weak that morning.

Consider scrubbing off the excess layer of mucus and bacteria buildup on your tongue as a way of literally cleansing your palate. Doing so allows you to actually taste the delicious food you've prepared and enjoy it that much more.

3Scraping Will Improve Your Immune System

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Holistic health advocate Gillian Mandich told MindBodyGreen that the tongue is actually the “first line of defense” in your immune system. In other words: happy mouth, happy immunity.

Rather than letting these toxins hang around all day only to get reabsorbed by the body, regularly scraping on an empty stomach when you wake up allows your system to operate on a clean slate, therefore boosting immunity from the start.

4It Also Encourages Healthy Digestion

As someone who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, I’ll do pretty much anything to improve my digestive track. Even if you don’t have tummy issues, though, we could all benefit from healthier digestion.

In case you didn’t know, digestion doesn’t begin and end in the stomach. Digestion starts as soon as you bite into a piece of food or sip on a beverage, because saliva is filled with enzymes that are meant to break down food on impact, which circles back to the importance of actually tasting your food. According to the Huffington Post, the more “mouth-watering” the meal, the better your digestion.

5You'll Become More Aware Of Your Health

I always just assumed that if my tongue wasn’t rosy in the a.m., that just meant whatever I ate left an impression. While this could definitely be a factor, your tongue is a reflection of your internal health. If you’re waking up to a layer of toxins and some wild breath, chances are your body’s giving you the sign that something either isn’t right, or the foods you’re eating aren’t working in your favor.

According to the founder and owner of holistic healthcare practice Svastha Ayurveda, Danielle Pasqualone Martin, regularly looking in the mirror when you wake up in the morning and examining your tongue is a great way to learn about your body and keep track of your internal health.

In a blog post discussing the benefits of tongue scraping, Martin explained,

If you regularly are checking your tongue each morning, you have a daily window into your ever so changing health. This can awaken you to foods that may not be compatible for you or be a red light that something is off balance in your system.
Of course, if your tongue is shiny and clean, this can be an indication that you are in good shape and living well. 

6It's Just A Really Cool Thing To Add To Your Self-Care Routine

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If you're interested in Ayurvedic practices, tongue scraping is a top priority. According to Chopra, the ancient practice not only washes away bad breath, stimulates awesome digestion, and de-clogs your taste buds so you can enjoy every meal, but it also "increases clarity of the mind by reducing heaviness and Ama from the head." Translation: scraping the crap off your tongue makes you feel so incredibly clean.

Granted, I understand how weird this technique may sound to you. I'm going to be honest: The process itself is far from aesthetically pleasing. But I've been diligently scraping for about a week now, and I can honestly say adding this unique hack to my morning routine has made my mouth feel so much cleaner. Plus, I feel a little bit healthier knowing I'm able to tangibly eliminate toxins from my body. Sometimes it's the little, gross things in life that really make a huge difference.