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Tongue Scraping: How to Clean Your Tongue

Updated: Mar 20

Learn how self-care for your mouth is a must-have in your morning routine.

Close up of woman smiling with bright white teeth and small circular mirror
Try these self-care practices for your mouth for fresher breath and more.

Before I brush my teeth every morning, I clean my tongue with a tongue scraper. In fact, I scraped my tongue just before I wrote this. Tongue scraping has been part of my self-care routine for the last several years. My tongue scraper even travels with me.

Below, I describe how and why I practice tongue scraping and oiling my gums, which have roots in the daily routines of Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, which means the “science or knowledge of life.”

Here’s why I begin my day with these self-care practices.

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Practice It: Tongue Scraping and Oiling Your Gums

Tongue Scraping

In addition to promoting fresh breath, cleaning your tongue with a tongue scraper can help reduce ama (toxins) that accumulate in your mouth while you sleep, wake up taste buds and stimulate digestion. The color on your tongue scraper can help indicate the presence and the amount of ama in your body. Colors can range—you might see brown, yellow, white or clear—and they may change daily. In general, the darker and thicker the residue, the more it means that there is ama present.

Tongue scraping is practiced in the morning as part of dinacharya (daily routine) before brushing your teeth. Tongue scrapers come in numerous styles and materials, including stainless steel and plastic. I’ve used both, but my current one is a stainless steel tongue scraper.

How to clean your tongue:
  • Purchase a tongue scraper. (I bought mine from my local health food store, and you can also get it on Amazon: I use drTung’s Stainless Steel Tongue Scraper.)

  • Place the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue and gently scrape forward to the front of the tongue. Key word: gentle! Notice the color of the residue (if there is any) and then rinse the tongue scraper. That was one round.

  • Repeat this for up to six or more (if needed) rounds. I typically do five to seven total gentle scrapes. Rinse the tongue scraper of residue after every round.

Oiling Your Gums

As with tongue scraping, oiling your gums can help cleanse your mouth.

How to oil your gums:
  • Begin with a small amount of food-grade sesame oil (as long as you are not allergic to it).

  • Massage the oil onto your top and bottom gums. Once complete, spit the oil into a trash can and rinse your mouth with warm water.

For more self-care practices and tips, register for my Nourish Note newsletter and check out my Stand Up for Your Self-Care YouTube Channel.

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