Tongue scraper to the rescue

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Tongue scraper to the rescue – Helps combat bad breath and prevent bacterial infections

Nowadays, according to recent statistics, roughly 25% of the population living in the German-speaking realm suffer from bad breath. In some cases, bad breath is a result of gum inflammations such as periodontitis. Most frequently, however, the causes are malodorous sulfurs that develop as byproducts of the decomposition of food leftovers inside the mouth by bacteria. Since a large number of bacteria can accumulate on the tongue's surface in the form of a white film, the periodical and thorough cleaning of the tongue is recommended by an increasing number of dentists.

Are the bacteria on the surface of the tongue harmful?

An excessively large number of bacteria on the tongue's surface can, as already mentioned, lead to bad breath (also known as halitosis) or even to periodontitis. This happens when inflammation-causing bacteria find their way from the tongue's surface to and under the gum line where they then start multiplying. In such cases, even the most thorough dental care regimen is mostly powerless. Therefore, it is best to remove these bacteria via cleaning the tongue well before they can ever reach the gum line. To determine via a self-test whether your tongue is ripe for a cleaning, just stick it out in front of a mirror at least once a day to check its color. A uniformly pink color indicates a healthy tongue while a a white, milky film on top of it is a clear sign for excessive bacteria build-up. 

What is a tongue scraper and how useful is it?

Most tongue scraper types are made out of plastic and are pretty similar to tongue brushes (but have little knobs instead of bristles on their front ends). You can buy one in virtually every drug store in Vienna and many dentists recommend its use twice a day ater brushing your teeth. To use a tongue scraper effectively, you can follow the following simple 3 steps:
  • Step 1: Stick your tongue out as far as possible (or gently pull it out with 2 fingers) 
  • Step 2: Place the tongue scraper's front end at the back-end of the tongue and carefully slide it forward while applying light pressure to scrape off any bacterial build-up
  • Step 3: Repeat step 2 about 3-4 times and rinse the tongue scraper off with some water in between steps
Please make sure to always keep in mind: Do not exert too much pressure on the tongue's surface!
Are there viable alternatives that can replace a tongue scraper?
Though tongue scrapers achieve fairly good results in terms of cleaning tongue surface areas, they often fail to reach bacteria that are hidden under the dents and dimples of the tongue. In such cases, a tongue brush is a better alternative, thanks to its bristles. Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you do not have access to a tongue scraper or to a tongue brush, you can use a tea spoon as a last resort. To use the spoon effectively, turn it around and run it gently across your tongue while applying light pressure to remove any bacterial build-up.
How much does a tongue scraper cost?
As already mentioned, tongue scrapers are available for sale in virtually every drug store and the plastic versions are usually fairly affordable at price of up to € 5 or below. Tongue scrapers made out of metal (e.g., stainless steel) are a bit more expensive and usually start at € 10. The key advantage of the metal-made versions is their far longer durability which can range in the years, given that all it takes to properly maintain such a tongue scraper is to rinse it off with water after each use (ideally with hot, or even boiling water). Cheaper plastic-made models, on the other hand, should be replaced every 2 months.

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