The practice of tongue scraping and its benefits have always been known in various ancient cultures. However, it has never really received the recognition it deserves. Scientific experiments conducted on the efficacy of toothbrushes versus tongue scrapers in cleaning the build-up of microbes on the tongue and fighting bad breath report that tongue scrapers, when used regularly, are significantly effective. If combined with a chemical mouth wash, it helps maintain good oral hygiene.
However, there are several types of tongue cleaners available in the market. Some are attached to the back of a toothbrush, whereas others are made of several materials like plastic, steel, and copper. Since tongue scraping is an ancient Ayurvedic practice, let’s see what the ancient texts have to say with respect to using plastic or metal tongue scrapers.
Use of metal tongue scrapers in Ayurveda
Ayurveda recommends that we use a curved (U-shape) tool to scrape our tongues (“jihva nirlekhana”). The blade of the tool should be slightly blunted and should not have sharp edges to prevent from cutting our tongues. The texts encourage us to use metals like gold, silver, copper, tin, and brass because of their medicinal properties.
Nowadays, we find plastic, steel or copper tongue scrapers in the market. Steel scrapers are helpful in removing the deposits on the surface of the tongue, and can be effectively sterilized so are very hygienic. Copper Tongue cleaners also have antimicrobial properties. A study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene in 2011 reported that microbes adhered less to steel tongue scrapers as compared to plastic tongue scrapers. Hence, it may be concluded that steel scrapers are a better choice with respect to oral hygiene than plastic ones.
Of course, it may not be feasible to use gold or silver tongue scrapers or even those plated with these metals because they will be expensive. However, it is advisable to use copper tongue scrapers.
Copper tongue scrapers: Benefits
Ayurvedic texts describe copper (“tamra” in Sanskrit) as cool in potency and sweet, astringent, and bitter in taste. Thus, it is effective in balancing pitta. Copper also places in check the natural heaviness of kapha since it has the property of being light. Upon contact, copper has the ability to heal tongue sores and mouth ulcers—a quality known as “ropana” in Ayurveda, meaning “something that seals together or fills in.”
Benefits of other metals
Known as “swarna” in Sanskrit, gold has the ability to balance all three doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha. It rejuvenates the vision and improves intelligence, memory, and the working of the heart. It is also considered to be an aphrodisiac
Silver (“rajata” in Sanskrit) has the ability to balance both vata and pittadoshas. It is known to be an antiaging agent and strengthens all seven dhatus or tissues of the body.
Brass, or “pittala” in Sanskrit, can balance pitta and kapha and helps improve eyesight.
Tin, called “vanga” in Sanskrit, provides relief from kaphadoshas and fat. Similar to brass, it also helps improve vision.
It is important to remember that although gold, silver, and copper have medicinal properties, these metals should NOT be ingested—they are effective only for external use.