Proponents also report that it leaves their mouth feeling remarkably fresher overall. “I love tongue scraping,” says Allure‘s own digital art director Ingrid Frahm. “Or maybe, I just hate not tongue scraping. If for some reason I can’t [do it], it truly feels like not brushing my teeth at this point — gross.”

Amra Hajdarevic, co-founder of oral care brand Terra & Co., also tongue-scrapes daily. For her, the practice is an Ayurvedic ritual similar to dry brushing and oil pulling in that it helps remove ama, which she defines as “any accumulation of toxic residue in the mind and body.”

Are there any risks to tongue scraping? 

No matter your motivations, it might be worth giving tongue scraping a try, since — according to Dr. Lowenberg — there’s no inherent risk to the practice. (Injury and irritation only arise when you scrape too hard, he says.)

That said, despite its recent surge and long history, “the American Dental Association doesn’t consider tongue scraping necessary for good dental hygiene, and neither do I,” says Dr. Apa, who instead emphasizes the importance of brushing morning and night, using floss and mouth rinse, and visiting your dentist for a cleaning at least twice a year. But if you like the way tongue scraping feels, he says, you can incorporate it into your routine as “the third step after brushing and flossing, and prior to rinsing with mouthwash.”

How should you use a tongue scraper?

Before you give tongue scraping a go, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind. To start, consider investing in a stainless steel scraper, which — in addition to being intrinsically more hygienic than plastic — can be used over and over again. My tool of choice was Terra & Co. Gentle Green Tongue Scraper, which Hajdarevic says can last up to a decade with proper care. 

Next, follow Dr. Apa’s advice: “Start at the back of the tongue and pull the scraper forward, using light pressure. Do this two or three times, rinsing the scraper under warm water between pulls. Once done, give your mouth a rinse to ensure nothing was left behind.”

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