Could this be the cause of your bad breath? A Dentist explains

Nobody likes bad breath. Otherwise known as halitosis, an offensive odour can ruin a conversation and encourage people to take a step back which can really knock your confidence.

If you’ve tried everything else, it’s time to stick your tongue out and get ready to take a selfie or grab a mirror.

How is it looking? Does it appear clean? Is there a coating? Is there any discolouration?
You may see no coating, a white coating, a thick layer or a yellow discolouration amongst other things.

The tongue is a muscle in the mouth made of microscopic grooves called papillae. When we eat or drink, tiny particles can get stuck in the papillae and sit there. This can lead to a perfect site for the production of Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSCs) which release an offensive odour resulting in halitosis (bad breath). When debris is combined with bacteria, we get a coating on the tongue. Whilst the tip of the tongue may appear pink and healthy, the posterior (back) two thirds may not be.

The ancient science of Ayurveda originated over 2,000 years ago, and has long advocated tongue scraping to remove plaque on the tongue and keeping the mouth healthy.

Dentists often encourage brushing with a toothbrush to remove plaque on the tongue but evidence shows that tongue scraping is more effective at removing VSCs that lead to bad breath.

What to do

It’s really important not only to keep your teeth and gums in good condition but also to thoroughly clean your tongue. Which is why making yearly visits to the dentist is quite essential is one wants to maintain oral hygiene. Our mouths are full of bacteria and the moist warm environment is perfect for further bacterial activity if it is not removed.

By cleaning your tongue you will:
1. Reduce your risk of halitosis by removal of VSCs.
2. Enable yourself to really taste your food by unclogging accumulated debris from your papillae.
3. Reduce the toxic load in your mouth that can enter the body and affect your immune system.

If halitosis does persist even with good oral hygiene, it is important to see a dentist to uncover what other causes may be contributing.

There are a number of tongue scrapers on the market. The main materials are plastic or stainless steel. You may prefer to opt for stainless steel as it is free of plastic, reusable and eco-friendly.

How to use a tongue scraper

  1. Stick your tongue out and hold each end of the scraper
  2. Place it to the back of your tongue and gently press down (if you have a sensitive gag reflex, move the starting position to a comfortable area further forward)
  3. Pull the scraper forwards and down the length of your tongue
  4. When you have reached the tip of your tongue, rinse off the debris
  5. Repeat until all debris has been removed

This is best done in the morning before eating, drinking and tooth brushing. Try it today and see how a tongue scraper benefits you.  It’s important to note that if halitosis persists, a trip to your dentist’s office or doctor is needed to investigate further.  Happy scraping!

Contributed by Dr Surinder Arora, Integrative Dentist and Health Coach.


Photo credits: Pixabay, Svastha Ayurveda
V. Narayanaswamy. Origin and development of Ayurveda. Journal of Aincient Science of Life 1981 Vol 1 P.1-7

Pedrazzi V et al Tongue Cleaning Methods: a comparative clinical trial employing a toothbrush and tongue scraper J Periodontology 2004 Jul:75(7):1009-12

Outhouse TL et al. A Cochran Systematic Review finds tongue scrapers have short term efficacy in controlling halitosis. Gen Dent. 2006 Sept-Oct https:/%2

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