Tongue cleaning benefits digestion

Tongue cleaning benefits digestion

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 18, 2024

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 18, 2024

Tongue cleaning has been the focus and the cornerstone of Ayurvedic principles since ancient times. Your tongue can tell a lot about a person’s overall health say the Ayurvedics. The practitioners of Ayurveda believe that the state of our tongue reflects the state of our health in general and tongue cleaning is an important part of one’s daily oral hygiene routine.

Most people don’t pay much heed to the condition of their tongues and only give it a cursory glance every once in a while. You should look at your tongue quite frequently as it can provide detailed information about your overall health.

Tongue scraping (tongue cleaning) can benefit your oral health in many ways, but who would have thought it could help with digestion? Yes! Tongue cleaning not only freshens your breath and promotes clean teeth, it can help you digest your food better!

What is tongue cleaning?


It is a practice of cleaning the surface of the tongue with a tongue scraper to remove bacteria and debris on the surface of the tongue. Studies show using tongue scrapers to clean your tongue has better cleaning efficiency than using a toothbrush. There are different types of tongue scrapers available in the market. You can choose the type of tongue scraper you want, and the one you are comfortable using without causing a gag reflex.

Most people are simply not aware of the importance of cleaning your tongue. People who are aware are either lazy or simply forget this very important step in their oral hygiene regime. It is often misunderstood that tongue cleaning is only for people who have bad breath. However, tongue cleaning should be practiced by everyone as a preventive measure to avoid bad breath and to improve digestion.

Studies prove apart from halitosis, one can experience an improvement in digestion if done regularly. How? Let’s find out.

Failing to clean your tongue

Cleaning of tongue is as important as cleaning your body. If you do not bathe for days and nights, would you like to look at yourself in the mirror? You would think about cleaning your body, wouldn’t you? In the same way, if your tongue is not clean, it starts appearing dirty. Hence it is also said, tongue cleaning can improve the appearance of your tongue and appear healthy.

So what happens if you don’t clean your tongue? You may think that it is not much of an issue if you cannot keep your tongue clean! You will be wrong, very wrong.

If you don’t clean your tongue, not only can you grow new bacteria and methane, but it will also be a reason for the bad breath and foul odor. The tongue basically collects all the debris like germs, mites, fungus, and other small particles which get accumulated over time. These remains can also stain your tongue. These dark brown stains on your tongue are not just horrible to look at, they might also hide more than one secrets.

Unhygienic tongue

An unhygienic tongue appears whitish to yellowish in color or is covered with a thick layer of food debris on the tongue. This thin-thick biofilm covering the tongue, is called coating on the tongue. The thickness of this biofilm keeps increasing if you fail to clean your tongue. This coating may also pick up the stains from the food you eat and appear in different shades of white, yellow or even brown. Most common form of an unhygienic tongue is the white coating on the tongue called ‘The White Tongue’.

Having an unhygienic tongue could lead to bad breath, tooth decay and dental caries, globus (feeling of a lump in the throat often mistaken for anxiety ), dry throat, swelling in the salivary glands and many other health issues.

White coating on the tongue


White coating on the tongue is an unattractive mouth condition wherein there is a thick layer of debris and food that remains on the tongue that is left behind and not cleaned properly. Over a period of time, it keeps becoming thick and forms a white coating on the tongue. Our tongue is not a smooth, even surface. It has deep serrations and papillae. The deeper the papillae, the more amount of food is accumulated on the surface of the tongue. Hence, the deeper papillae on the tongue, the thicker is the biofilm.

The white coating on the tongue now becomes a breeding ground for the bacteria. The food thus rottens and gives a foul smell.

This increases the overall levels of bacterial growth in the mouth. Further increased pH levels accelerates the bacterial growth in the mouth. This is also the reason for increased plaque and calculus levels in the mouth.

Increased bacterial levels in the mouth

Our mouths have a balance of good as well as bad bacteria in general scenarios. On normal day-to-day basis, the mouth has a good amount of bacteria and this is not causing concern. Failing to clean the tongue increases the levels of bad bacteria in the mouth. Most of the bad bacteria produce toxins that cause various diseases. These bacteria can promote tooth decay or gingivitis.

This can also lead to many other health complications. It’s not just about gum disease – it’s also about managing mouth odor, minimizing plaque and Gingival inflammation, and maintaining healthy teeth. Low salivary pH and altered salivary composition, often lead to perturbation of the function and composition of the oral microbiome causing dysbiosis, and an associated risk of oral infections. Hence, the flushing-out activity is very important to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth.

Unhealthy tongue, Unhealthy gut


One of the main reasons for poor digestion is an unhealthy tongue. It is a pain to deal with chronic health issues. The more common problem faced by people from all over the world is that of an unhealthy gut. Usually, we ignore the issue, assuming that it is just a minor health issue that will go away on its own.

Ayurvedic studies prove unhealthy tongue calls in for an unhealthy gut. Our mouth is a gateway to our gut. Along with the food there are other microbes that are ingested while swallowing. The increased levels of bad bacteria that reside on the tongue, enter the stomach and intestines. The bad bacteria that harbor in the gut cause a lot of gut-related problems. This alters digestion and hampers the absorption power. Chronic digestion problems could also lead to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

The situation further piles up as the gut gets slow in digesting food. The complex molecules then start to ferment and rot, which is the reason for bloating.

Having good tongue hygiene can thus help in preventing and improving digestion problems by keeping your tongue healthy. A healthy gut also paves way for better immunity.

The bottom line

Apart from all the other tongue cleaning benefits, tongue scraping holds the power to prevent and improve digestion problems if done twice daily. Tongue cleaning should be done regularly after your meals to flush out all the food remnants and reduce the bacterial load in the mouth.

Healthy tongue, healthy gut, better immunity.


  • Your tongue is one of the fastest ways to tell how healthy you are.
  • Ayurvedic studies prove regular tongue cleaning benefits digestion.
  • An unhygienic tongue looks like a white-yellow-brown coating on the tongue.
  • Coatings on the tongue are a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Increased bacterial growth enters stomach and causes digestion problems.
  • Hence tongue cleaning should be done regularly by everyone as a part of the dental care routine to improve digestion and oral health.
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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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