introPin It
Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Ever since Nadine Abramcyk, Tenoverten nail salon co-founder, told us that she swears by using a copper tongue scraper every day, I was curious—especially since Abramcyk had said previously that it “sounds a little gross, but it makes a huge difference and is quite invigorating. I’m obsessed.”

Well, I’ll take anything that invigorates me and can improve my life. I grabbed the same tongue scraper Abramcyk suggested from CAP Beauty and… let it sit in its packaging for a month. I wasn’t entirely convinced that this one very simple metal object could be so life-changing. It wasn’t electronic, nor did it have some life-changing technology incorporated into its design.

But one evening about a month ago, I unpackaged it and walked to the bathroom sink. I brushed my teeth with my handy Quip, and then, for the first time ever, I scraped my tongue. And I, just like Abramcyk, was hooked from then on. Morning and night, I grab the tongue scraper, and gently scrape through my tongue.

Some background: This concept is nothing new; in fact, it’s been a staple in Ayurvedic routines for hundreds of years. A tongue scraper is usually a long, thin, flat piece of metal that is bent in a ‘U’ shape. I’m a huge fan of the easy-to-use, Dr Tung’s stainless steel version that CAP sent over. It’s only $10, and appears to be practically indestructible, too.

There is (unfortunately) no way to talk about the tongue scraper without mentioning what comes off your tongue while using it. I know it’s kind of gross, so I shall sprint through it as briefly as possible. Even when I feel like my tongue is clean, a white, thick coating will come off—every time, twice a day (sorry, gross, stick with me here). Even while I’m eating well, drinking a lot of water, and taking wellness supplements, it doesn’t matter: Some form of toxic residue seems to be getting scraped off.

And that’s why I keep coming back: It not only feels great to have such a clean tongue, but the tongue scraper’s pulling gunk out of my body that was idly resting on my tongue. It sounds disgusting, but it’s true for almost all of us.

It actually turns out that tongue scraping has some major fans in the medical community, too—especially dentists. We asked Domino favorite (and the coolest, most Instagrammable dentist around) Dr. Jennifer Plotnick of Williamsburg’s Grand Street Dental, what she thought.

“Our tongues are one of the largest breeding grounds for bacteria in the mouth, and the biofilm that builds up around the taste buds can release sulfurous gases and be hard to remove,” says Dr. Plotnick. (Ew, gross!) “Tongue scraping is an essential addition to your morning routine, and my first suggestion to patients complaining of halitosis.”

Beyond just removing tongue bacteria and helping with bad breath, regular usage of a tongue scraper can actually improve your overall dental health. “Studies have shown that tongue scraping can significantly reduce the incidence of streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli, which are the two types of bacteria responsible for dental decay,” says Dr. Plotnick.

CAP Beauty thinks that consistent use of a tongue scraper can do even more than that. On their site, they write that by removing the toxic residues from the body, your ability to taste is heightened, which can thereby discourage unneeded or excess sugar and salt from your diet. “When done on a daily basis, improved digestion, clarity of mind, and stimulation of internal organs is accomplished,” they say.

Okay, our interest is piqued! But is there a right way to scrape? Dr. Plotnick recommends holding the two ends of the scraper in both hands, sticking out your tongue, and then placing the scraper as far back on your tongue as possible, while still being comfortable for you. Then, with firm but gentle pressure, start at the base of your tongue, and in one long, strong movement, scrape all the way to the top. Rinse the scraper and repeat until your tongue feels clean and is free of coating. (You won’t believe how much gunk comes off: It’s jarring enough to make it habit-forming.)

You’d never want to do it in the reverse direction though, of course—that would push the bacteria down your throat, instead off down the sink drain. The scraper is much more effective than simply brushing your tongue, as you’ll pull much more off with this tool.

And, of course, tongue scraping should be part of your daily routine, along with your brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist twice a year.

What do you think? Are you ordering a tongue scraper ASAP?

Keep on cleaning up:

Epic Beauty Tricks From Our Favorite Girl Bosses

Stylish Dental Products Are Here, and Yes, You Need Them

Changing This One Thing Will Improve Your Hair Immediately