What Is Tongue Scraping And Why Is It So Popular?

Although the term "tongue scraping" may be new to you, the practice has been around for hundreds of years. Considered a very important part of self-care rituals in places like India and South America, tongue scraping, also known as jihwa prakshalana, eventually made its way West where the upper echelon in Europe used a variety of instruments to scrape their tongues between the 15th and 19th centuries (via HuffPost).


While the term on its own doesn't sound very appealing, nor are the instruments involved, tongue scraping is becoming more popular because of its positive effects on oral hygiene. "Tongue scraping is the process of using a curve-shaped tool, typically crafted in stainless steel or silicone, to remove buildup and unwanted bacteria from the tongue's surface," dentist Michael Apa, the founder of Apa Aesthetic, tells Allure.

But that still doesn't answer why everyone we know is suddenly into tongue scraping. So, here are the benefits that come with it.

Tongue scraping improves bad breath and enhances taste

Of course, everyone, even those who don't have halitosis, are occasionally guilty of having bad breath (hello, coffee and garlic!), but tongue scraping can help keep it in check.

"Tongue scraping can do a better job at removing that plaque and bacteria off the tongue's surface [than brushing]," dental hygienist Tenika Patterson, R.D.H., tells Cleveland Health. "Brushing is OK to do, but think about it this way — if your carpet is dirty and you scrub it, the dirt's going to get embedded down in there. But if you scrape it, it's going to come right off the surface."


Not only can tongue scraping give you fresher breath; it can also improve your taste. When you've scraped off the build-up of bacteria, everything is suddenly taster, spicier, salter — it's like a world of flavor that you haven't experienced before (via Healthline). It's like the equivalent of finally getting glasses and realizing, "Wow! I have been missing a lot."

Tongue scraping is great for overall health

Something that's important to know about oral hygiene is that it's linked to other parts of our body. We may think brushing, flossing, and tongue scraping are just about keeping our mouths healthy, but it's more than that. Poor oral hygiene can lead to things like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other issues that one would never even associate with their dental health (via the Mayo Clinic).


But while tongue scraping definitely has its benefits, it's not necessary for a clean mouth as long as you floss, brush, and use bacteria-fighting mouthwashes regularly. "The American Dental Association doesn't consider tongue scraping necessary for good dental hygiene, and neither do I," Dr. Michael Apa tells Allure. But he also adds that if you're into tongue scraping then go for it. Dr. Apa just advises that you do it after brushing and flossing, but before using mouthwash.

Oral hygiene isn't just about having pearly whites, because what's the point of having gorgeous teeth if your breath is totally rank? While tongue scraping might be the trend of the moment and has its benefits, it's not a necessary part of keeping your mouth in tip-top shape. As long as you brush and floss regularly and see your dentist at least every three to six months, you should be more than okay on the oral hygiene front