Issue 9.11.15 Tongue “Tools” – Your Health Detective

It’s interesting that we take care to have our teeth cleaned professionally, we brush – floss – use little brushes between our teeth – rinse with mouth washes to freshen our breath…BUT…most people pay little, if any, attention to their tongue maintenance and health.

Dentists throughout the world recommend using a tongue cleaner/scraper because it helps fight cavities by removing bacteria from food and drink. The tongue cleaner also prevents bad breath, especially common in people who eat a lot of dairy and red meat. This simple, yet unique, tool reduces excess mucus in the mouth, in turn reducing it in the nose and throat. It’s interesting that I worked in dentistry eleven years in the 60’s and 70’s and there was no mention of tongue “tools”. Additionally, I’ve had more than my share of dental office visits with top dentists and not one of them ever mentioned tongue brushing/scraping, even with all the dental bacterial and periodontal issues I had from dental restorations that were sabotaging my health…CLICK to continue reading…

Tongue cleaners are simple, inexpensive yet completely transformative. They are usually thin, U-shaped devices made of stainless steel or plastic, consisting of a blunt edge that removes build-up from the surface of the tongue. 

Some people ask if they can achieve the same benefits by brushing their tongue with a stiff toothbrush – the answer is NO. Tongue brushing moves food particles and bacteria around and can be somewhat helpful, but not totally effective.   A tongue “tool” is far more efficient – removing deep bacteria deposits, thoroughly stimulating blood flow and reawakening taste cell receptors.

Historical Perspective…

It’s said that tongue cleaners/scrapers originated in Ayurveda, the East Indian natural healing medicine practiced for centuries. Ayurvedic principles say that people who use tongue “tools” are more expressive, thoughtful, better public speakers, and are more sincere and authoritative conversationalists…makes you want to go out today and buy your “tools” doesn’t it?

Healthy Side-Effect of Tongue Brushing…

Taste buds cover the entire surface of the tongue – each taste bud is make up of taste cells. At the very tip of every taste cell is a receptor. When this receptor is coated with debris, it’s hampered in its job of transmitting taste to the cell receptors. When we have less than perfect taste receptors, we’re more than apt to crave and increase intake of sugar, fats and carbs. It’s important to note that if your tongue cannot taste something and register satiety within your intestinal computer that you consumed it, the computer in your brain is more likely to crave it, thus over-eating or eating unhealthy “comfort” food.

Cleaning the tongue of leftover food and bacteria has an interesting side-effect of greatly reducing cravings. Researchers found that when the taste of food is still in your mouth, you’re more likely to crave foods from the opposite extreme of what you last ate. For example, if you had an intensely rich meal consisting of sugars and carbohydrates, you’re more likely to crave salty or fatty food (chips, popcorn, crackers, etc.).

Tongue cleaners re-charge your taste buds – allowing you to more fully experience flavors. This makes basic foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables have more subtle satisfying flavors. These simple foods will begin to bring you greater satisfaction, leading you to eat less.

Regardless of the “tongue tool” you use, a few quick strokes, 2-3 times a day, or after brushing your teeth is all that’s needed. Be sure to begin at the back of your tongue and scrape/brush forward, rinsing the “tool” in-between each swath so you don’t cross-contaminate with what you’ve removed. Brush/scrape until all white reside is gone.

There should be no pain or gagging – if you feel any discomfort, you’re probably scraping too hard or starting too far back on the tongue.

If you’re wondering what those bumps are at the back of your tongue, they’re your salivary glands and they’re meant to be there – if you found them, you’ve gone too far!

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