Drugstores are constantly updating the oral and dental health products they offer according to what is popular. While many of these products are just updates to old favorites, like toothbrushes with rubber parts on the back to clean your tongue, electric toothbrushes, and pre-measured floss, there is one tool you may not be as familiar with: the tongue scraper. In today’s blog, your Maple Grove, MN, dentist will discuss the potential benefits and dangers of tongue scraping so that you can decide for yourself if it is something you want to add to your oral health routine.
What Is the Purpose of a Tongue Scraper?
The purpose of a tongue scraper is to clean off your tongue, just like when you follow the suggestion to brush your tongue as a part of your oral health routine after brushing your teeth. However, scraping your tongue with a tongue scraper is supposed to have two main benefits:
- Improving your bad breath (halitosis) by reducing the amount of odor causing volatile sulfur compounds, also known as VSCs, on the surface of your tongue and
- Reducing the number of bacteria in your mouth by scraping them off of your tongue, keeping you at a lower risk for cavities, gingivitis, and needing tooth fillings in the future.
Does It Really Work?
While the goals of better breath and less bacteria are noble ones, the studies that have been done to see if tongue scraping can achieve these goals have not been conducted in the best ways. For example, most of the studies have only surveyed small amounts of people, meaning that their results are not necessarily representative of the population at large. Others have been conducted for specific parts of the population, such as one that saw that children who brushed or scraped their tongues did have less bacteria in their mouths than ones that did not, but we do not know if these results would continue for adults. In fact, one study found that tongue scraping helped people feel like their mouths were cleaner, but didn’t actually reduce the number of bacteria present on their tongues at all. The results of studies about VSCs have been similar, with some saying that tongue scraping helps and others saying it makes no difference. So, the truth is, there haven’t been enough in-depth studies, and we just don’t know yet.
Should I Try It?
The good news is that, even though we have no solid evidence that tongue scraping is beneficial, we do know that trying tongue scraping should be harmless. Tongue scrapers shouldn’t hurt you, unless there is a manufacturing defect, as they are typically made of plastic and rubber. Of course, if you find that your tongue is sore and sensitive, you should stop using your tongue scraper and talk to your dentist, as there may be a deeper issue causing your sensitivity. Otherwise, you can go ahead and try it out if it interests you!
We’re Here to Answer Your Questions
When you have questions about your oral health and how to improve it, call us! We are always happy to answer your questions whether over the phone or at your checkups and cleanings, so contact our team at Elm Creek Dental in Maple Grove, MN, today by calling 763-416-0606.