You might consider a ‘tongue scraper’ to be top of the list entitled ‘Crazy ridiculous fads’. To be honest, until lately, I dismissed them as the same. However, after much research, I now use one every day.
What is it? Well, a tongue scraper is an implement that gets to the back of your tongue to remove the white furry stuff that builds up overnight. Gross, yes, but that’s exactly why we should get rid of it. While we may think of it as some whacky contraption, author and Ayurvedic fan Jasmine Hemsley, says that tongue scraping has always been a hugely important part of Eastern wellbeing. ‘In traditional Chinese medicine, your tongue is a map of your health,’ she says. ‘It’s a practice that’s so normal in India that mothers tell their children to scrape their tongues over brushing their teeth.’
But why do we need one? ‘Overnight, your body gets rid of toxins,’ explains Jasmine, ‘And if you look at your tongue, you’ll see this white or sometimes yellow-y furry build-up. If you don’t get rid of it, then you’ll absorb the toxins back into your body. However in Eastern countries, they’ll instead use a tongue scraper to remove it.’ Can’t using a toothbrush suffice? ‘No,’ says Jasmine. ‘You need something hard to remove it.’
Co-founder of wellbeing website victoriahealth.com Shabir Daya MPharmS, says, ‘We have a combination of bacteria in the mouth. Anaerobic bacteria can sit at the back of the tongue where the fissures are deeper – they sit and eat away at food which also release gases.’ This explains morning ‘dog breath’ which can be worse depending on your health, party habits and diet. Therefore, it makes total sense to get rid of it.
I’ve seen a few tongue scrapers lately. The best are copper, which has antibacterial qualities. Jasmine sells the Tongue Tingler (£10, jasminehemsley.com), which I use. It’s a U-shaped piece of copper ribbon that you hold with both hands, place at the back of the tongue and scrape forwards. ‘I tend to scrape once down the middle and once on each side of the tongue,’ Jasmine says. You’ll notice the white gunk coming off with each scrape. Do it first thing.
It seems tongue scraping is far better for our oral hygiene than bacteria-blitzing mouth washes. ‘It’s important,’ says Shabir, ‘to keep the microbiome of the mouth in check. It’s important to keep the good bacteria present for the mouth to function optimally.' The benefits don’t just stop at better breath says Shabir, ‘Saliva function improves which is the start of good digestion. People find they taste their food better.’
This week, I’m on holiday and have left my tongue scraper behind. I actually miss it, a bit like I’d miss my toothbrush if I left it at home. For £10 and in just 10 seconds a day, I don’t know why I haven’t done this before.
Follow Susannah @susannahtaylor_