The Real Story Behind Tongue Cleaning and Oral Health

While it has been a popular practice in Eastern traditions for thousands of years, tongue cleaning has only recently begun to garner popularity in the west. While tongue cleaning initially existed on the fringes of holistic health, more and more holistic practitioners recognize the importance of cleaning your tongue.

Here's why tongue cleaning is important and how it impacts your oral health.

The importance of cleaning bacteria off your tongue

You’re probably familiar with the smell of morning breath. This odor is the result of bacteria gathering on your tongue. If bad breath and removing bacteria isn’t enough for you to consider the importance of cleaning your tongue, perhaps these additional reasons will convince you.

  • Tongue cleaning fights periodontal disease. If you leave bacteria on your tongue to grow and thrive, this can increase your risk of developing gum disease. These illnesses can then spread throughout your body.
  • Tongue cleaning improves taste. By clearing the gunk off your tongue, a regular cleaning practice can help improve your sense of taste.
  • Tongue cleaning prevents oral thrush, an infection that can be caused by a buildup of yeast in the mouth. If you notice white patches appearing on your tongue, this could be the first sign of oral thrush. Either way, this is certainly an indication that you need to start cleaning your tongue.
  • Tongue cleaning boosts immunity and digestion. Your tongue is an important component of your immune system and keeping it clean helps to prevent toxic buildup from being absorbed into your body.

Tongue cleaning is a fairly easy practice to take up and the benefits are impressive. Not only does tongue cleaning improve your oral health, but  primes your immune system.

Types of tongue cleaners. There are a few different tools that you can use for cleaning your tongue. Each one has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. These are the most common tongue cleaning tools.


You’re probably already familiar with your toothbrush - the western pinnacle of oral hygiene. Some toothbrushes have a special surface on the backside that can be used for cleaning the tongue. Other people resort to simply brushing the tongue.

While brushing the tongue can be somewhat effective, it rarely provides enough of a scrape to clean all the bacteria off the tongue. Furthermore, brushing can damage the sensitive tissue of the tongue and lead to bleeding. Save your toothbrush for brushing your teeth.

Tongue brushes

Tongue brushes are a relatively new oral health tool that looks similar to a standard toothbrush. They are made with bristles that are designed to help clean tongues rather than scrub teeth. These are said to be comparably effective to tongue scrapers.

Tongue scrapers

Tongue scrapers are a highly effective tool for cleaning the tongue that have been used for thousands of years. Originating in the Ayurvedic tradition, these tongue scrapers are designed specifically to scrape away bacteria and prevent buildup on the tongue.

These tongue-shaped metal devices are placed with the tip reaching the back of the tongue. Once pressure is applied, the tongue scraper is pulled along the surface of your tongue, taking with it all the bacterial buildup and food particles.

Tongue cleaning in Ayurveda

Tongue scraping is a highly important part of Ayurvedic medicine. It is recommended that you clean your tongue at least twice a day in Ayurvedic traditions. If you don't clean your tongue, the buildup of toxic waste is believed to contribute to all sorts of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • A thick, white coating on the tongue
  • Brain fog and confusion
  • Bad breath and bad B.O.
  • Weakness, lack of energy
  • Aches and pains
  • Digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating

These issues are the result of the collective buildup of toxic material that gathers on the tongue. If it is not scraped off, it is absorbed through the digestive tract where it can cause further health problems.

Tongue scraping is also believed to help balance oral bacteria. Many tongue scrapers are made of copper, a metal that has been proven to help eliminate harmful bacteria while leaving beneficial ones alone.

Tongue scraping is an important practice around the world. Holistic doctors stand together in agreement that this ancient practice is still beneficial today. If you haven’t used a tongue scraper before, don’t hesitate to pick one up. You’ll soon be able to enjoy better breath, increased immunity, and healthier digestion.