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Oral Hygiene In Ayurveda

The surface of the tongue is a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause infection in teeth and gums and are often responsible for bad breath. Tongue scraping is known to reduce bacteria and bad breath up to 75%, thus when incorporated in your daily routine can be fare more effective in combating bad breath than a mouthwash or tooth brushing.

In Ayurveda different areas of the tongue are connected to our internal organs. Regular tongue scraping stimulates the reflex zones of your internal organs, which has a beneficial effect on their functions. By removing the coating on your tongue you open its pores, thereby enhance your taste buds. Without proper removal of mucus, taste buds can become blocked and which can inhibit your sense of taste.

Tongue scraping is a good way to increase self-awareness and can be a great assessment tool, so get to know it. Just like your skin, looking at your tongue can tell you a lot about your health. The daily practice of cleaning your tongue with awareness by analysing what comes off it can put you in direct contact with this assessment tool. For me, this is an important point since I can observe on a day to day basis, if there are any significant changes, perhaps I may discover which foods eaten the previous day may not have been agreeable. If the coating of the tongue is more whitish and thick, this indicates toxins due to accumulated KAPHA. If the coating is more yellowish or greenish, this is linked to PITTA and sometimes the coating can be light brown in colour, which indicates impaired VATA.

The tongue scrapers are best made of pure silver. By using a silver tongue scraper regularly micro particles of silver are being released into the bloodstream, which is an excellent way to improve immunity and to support health and wellbeing.

The first time I ever engaged in tongue scraping convinced me and I knew there was no going back. Tongue scraping first thing in the morning is like a wake up call to my organs, asking them to get active. It is something that can be so easily incorporated in your daily routine. It is a must when you embark on your Ayurvedic journey.


· Helps in reducing bad breath

· Removes bacteria

· Improves taste

· It increases self-awareness

· Cleanses and stimulates your organs

· Boosts immunity

· Prevents toxins being reabsorbed back into your body

· Improves digestion by activating saliva production and kindling your AGNI


Grab the two ends of the tongue scraper and reach the arch of it to the back of your tongue. Scrape firmly forward several times. Rinse the tongue scraper between each scrape. Make sure you wash off all the bacteria and saliva that's collected on the scraper. You should scrape your tongue at least two to three times per cleaning. Wash your tongue scraper thoroughly in hot water, dry and put away.


· Detoxifies

· Brightens your teeth

· Helpful in healing bleeding and/or receding gums

· Prevention and treatment of halitosis (bad breath)

· Useful in treating oral infections

· Prevents tooth decay and gum diseases

· Reduces inflammation and increases immunity

· Can be helpful in treating many systemic conditions throughout the body

Ayurveda had seen and discussed the benefits of using oil orally in its classical scriptures already 2000 years ago, long before its recent ‘new discovery’ in the west.

Did you know that there are more bacteria in your mouth than people living on this planet? The pockets around your teeth provide a breeding ground for many bacteria, viruses, fungus and parasites and their respective toxins, which could easily be tested through a saliva test. These unwanted microorganisms have the potential to thrive and multiply and they can easily migrate throughout the rest of your body. Just think about how many times a day you swallow your saliva and how easy it is for these microorganisms to spread throughout your body. Not only that, these harmful microorganisms produce further toxins as a simple byproduct of their very existence which cannot be destroyed by stomach acids or easily be neutralised by your body’s immunity.

Many of these unwanted microorganisms don’t even pass through the intestinal tract but get absorbed sublingually through the capillaries of your mouth, directly into your bloodstream. Imagine, you are hooked up to an IV that is directly feeding low levels of poison into your system 24/7 affecting your immunity.

This perhaps can be seen as the bigger problem since your immune system constantly needs to fight these troublemakers. If your immune system becomes overloaded or burdened by excessive stress, poor diet, environmental toxins, these organisms can spread easily throughout the body causing further problems that may lead to inflammation, infections or other health risks.

Oil pulling is one of the most remarkable methods of detoxification and healing known today. It is a very simple, harmless and cost effective but powerful therapeutic technique, which activates certain enzymes that help draw out the toxins in your mouth. Oil is used as a medium to cleanse and detox, it ‘pulls’ out bacteria and other debris. When you eliminate these harmful toxins from your system, which could potentially be the culprit for many other health problems such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes, you remove the cause for many systemic diseases and therefore will experience improved health and wellbeing.


For maintenance purposes, oil pulling is best done in the morning on an empty stomach, however if you have any particular health issues it can be done up to three times daily three to four hours after a meal.

Take one tablespoon of cold pressed, organic sesame oil into your mouth. Move the oil slowly in the mouth; then begin rinsing, swishing, and pulling the oil through the teeth without swallowing it. Practice this for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. You'll find that the oil will start to get watery as your saliva mixes with it. Keep swishing.

If your jaw muscles get sore while swishing, you're putting too much into it. Relax your jaw muscles and use your tongue to help move the liquid around the inside of your mouth. When you do this correctly, you'll feel very comfortable.

If you have the unbearable urge to swallow and if it becomes too unpleasant spit out and try again. It can be a bit unpleasant at first when you’re not used to it, but soon it will become your second nature like having a shower or brushing your teeth. 20 minutes will allow enough time for the oil to become more watery and whitish in colour, which is an indication that the process is completed.

As the end of the oil pulling session approaches, Spit the oil out, then rinse the mouth with warm salt water. Salt water rinsing isn’t absolutely necessary, but is very helpful as an antimicrobial and to soothe any inflammation. It has also proven to be effective in rinsing out any toxins, which may be left out in the mouth.


  • Get up and scrape your tongue.

  • Have a glass of water to stimulate saliva and to hydrate the oral cavity. This also helps to normalise PH levels.

  • Do the oil swishing for 15-20 minutes.

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water or salt water.

  • Massage your gums with your finger.

  • Brush your teeth using toothpaste free of fluoride and harmful chemicals such as propylene glycol and sodium laureth sulfate.

Important note:

  • Never swallow the oil because it is loaded with bacteria and unwanted toxins.

  • Although today many oils are recommended, the best oil is still sesame oil. Sesamum indicum, is considered to be the queen of oil seed crops because of its beneficiary effects on health.

Spit the oil into a garbage bin, but not the sink as it can solidify in the drain.

This article first appeared in Om Yoga Magazine in May 2015

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