2 Self-Care Practices for Your Mouth

Updated: Apr 24

This is why tongue scraping and oil pulling are must-haves in my 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 and oil pull (swish around oil in my mouth and then spit it out). In fact, just before I wrote this, I did both of these practices, which have been part of my self-care routine for a few years.

Below, I describe how and why I practice these, 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 Oil Pulling

Tongue Scraping

In addition to promoting fresh breath, tongue scraping 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 indication that there is ama present.

Tongue scraping is typically practiced in the morning, just before oil pulling and 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 made from stainless steel.

How to tongue scrape:

  • Purchase a tongue scraper. (I bought mine from my local health food store.)

  • 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 seven total gentle scrapes. Rinse the tongue scraper of residue after every round.

Oil Pulling

Tongue scraping is like a primer for oil pulling. As with tongue scraping, oil pulling can help clean your mouth and pull out toxins.

How to oil pull:

  • Begin with about one tablespoon of coconut oil or sesame oil (as long as you are not allergic to these; I currently use coconut oil but I’ve tried both).

  • As you would swish mouthwash, swish the oil in your mouth for anywhere from a few minutes when you’re just getting started to 10 to 20 minutes when you become more used to it. I usually oil pull while I’m getting myself and my kids ready for the day. The minutes really do go by fast!

  • After you’re done swishing, spit the oil into a trash can.

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