Cosmetic Dentist Gives the Top Benefits of Tongue Scraping

Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow is no stranger to alternative wellness practices. Now she has revealed that her oral hygiene morning routine starts with the Ayurvedic ritual of tongue scraping. It involves gently pressing a tongue scraper (a piece of metal or plastic bent into a U-shape) along your tongue to remove any dead cells, food debris, and bacteria. Our dental health expert explains the benefits of tongue scraping and how to do it.

When Gwyneth Paltrow opened up about tongue scraping, the world takes notice. So we asked a cosmetic dentist about the benefits of this oral hygiene practice

Gwyneth Paltrow’s morning ritual involves tongue scraping

Gwyneth Paltrow, founder of wellness brand goop and known for advocating ‘unique’ habits, shared her love for tongue scraping recently in an Instagram story.

The practice involves scraping the tongue from back to front three or four times using light pressure, after brushing and flossing. Advocates say the scraper — a U-shaped device made from plastic, copper or steel and costs as little as £3 and can be bought in most pharmacies — rids the mouth of harmful bacteria. Gwyneth Paltrow this month revealed that she starts her day ‘with a tongue scrape’ using a (£6.75) device from dental company Boka.

Dr Tara Francis

We asked Dr. Tara Francis – Cosmetic Dentist and Advanced Facial Aesthetician about the benefits of tongue scraping.

What are the benefits of tongue scraping?

Tongue scraping is part of a routine for good oral hygiene that has been around for thousands of years. It can remove unwanted dead cells and harmful bacteria that can contribute to gum inflammation, cavities, and bad breath. It can also improve your taste by helping to remove any debris blocking the taste cells. Tongue scraping can also help aid digestion, as the digestive process starts in the mouth and scraping can activate enzymes needed for this. It should be noted that tongue scraping is an additional step in our oral hygiene, it should not replace brushing teeth twice per day and cleaning in between teeth with floss or interdental brushes. 

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Why is it effective for reducing bad breath and cavities?

Tongue scraping does help remove bacteria responsible for developing cavities and bad breath, but only temporarily – as the same bacteria can form again after eating and drinking. Tongue scraping can also help prevent gum disease, as the bacteria can aggravate the gums and lead to inflammation. Moreover, it should be noted that tongue scraping is an additional step in our oral hygiene, it should not replace brushing teeth twice per day and cleaning in between teeth with floss or interdental brushes. 

What’s the best sort of scraper to use? Can I use a spoon?

My favourite type of tongue scraper is the metal U-shaped one. They typically last longer, are easy to use and are more hygienic. Although far from ideal, using a spoon is better than not using anything at all, however I would make sure that the spoon is made to be dedicated to you and your oral hygiene, and is not used for anything else. 

Will tongue scraping help with a coated white tongue?

Coated white tongues could be due to a variety of reasons such as yeast infections, dry mouth, medication use, smoking, insufficient oral hygiene practice. Tongue scraping can help with white coating in some instances, but it may not completely resolve it if it’s down to some issues like medication use or a yeast infection. Speak to your dentist if your white coating persists. 

How do you prevent the gag reflex when tongue scraping?

Preventing gag reflex – be gentle when tongue scraping and only go as far as your body allows. Take deep breaths and try and relax as much as possible. Each time you tongue scrape you can try go further, and you will eventually find that your gag reflex will improve over time.

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We’ve noticed that after Gwyneth scrapes her tongue, she finishes off with oil pulling. What do you think about oil pulling?

There’s currently not enough scientific data to give a definite answer on whether oil pulling is beneficial. If you do decide to practice oil pulling, it should not be a replacement to good oral hygiene which should include brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth with floss and/or interdental brushes

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