The surface of the tongue is an excellent breeding ground for different bacteria. These microorganisms colonize and multiply on the protein-rich areas of the tongue. They eventually reach all areas of the mouth including the teeth and gums through the saliva. These bacteria are often the major contributors for periodontal problems, tooth decay, gum infections, plaque and gum recession which lead to tooth loss.
Tongue cleaning helps remove some of the millions of bacteria, food debris, undigested food, toxins, mucus, dead cells and nasal drips that accumulate at the back of our mouth. Clinical studies have shown that using tongue cleaners on a daily basis has a significant effect on eliminating anaerobic bacteria. A tongue scraper is more effective at removing toxins and bacteria from the tongue than brushing. Although brushing and flossing will loosen and move debris around, they do not actually remove the bacteria. Almost half of our oral bacteria live on and in the deep crevices of our tongue; the scraping action of a tongue scraper collects these toxic tongue coatings and removes them from the body.
Ayurvedic and yogic practices recommend ‘tongue cleaning’ (Jiva sodhana) as a part of one’s daily cleansing routine to remove ‘ama‘ (toxic debris). The Gheranda Samhita considers tongue cleaning ‘essential for the preservation of the teeth’. The Caraka Samhita, Sutrasthana (V, 75.) says: “The dirt which is collected at the root of the tongue creates obstructions in respiration and produces a foul smell, hence one should scrape the tongue.”. Decaying bacteria in the tongue produces volatile sulfur compounds at the rear of the tongue; these molecules account for 80 to 95 percent of all cases of halitosis (bad breath)
When we sleep, our digestive system remains awake, removing toxins from our body. It deposits some of them onto the surface of our tongue via the internal excretory channels which are responsible for the coating usually seen on the tongue in the morning. If we don’t scrape away these toxins, they get reabsorbed by the body and can lead to respiratory difficulties, digestive problems and a compromised immune system.
A dirty tongue also interferes in tasting the subtle flavors in food. By removing food debris from the tongue’s surface, taste buds are able to function more effectively. This becomes more pronounced as one ages since the quantity of taste buds on the tongue diminishes.