Welcome to day ten of my 30 Days of Ayurveda series! Throughout these blogs and videos, I will be sharing some upbeat thoughts and wellness tips, as well as some Ayurvedic tricks and food recommendations to help you lead a balanced life.
How to do Tongue Scraping and Oil Pulling
Today, I want to share some thoughts about how to do tongue scraping and oil pulling according to Ayurveda. Many of us working from home at the moment, and consequently are no longer rushing through our daily routine. Therefore, we can now spend more time taking care of our mouths in the morning. This can be part of your Dinacharya, daily routine.
In the last few years, some really interesting studies have been published that highlight the importance of maintaining good oral health. They revealed that infection and disease can be caused by bacteria travelling through the gums into the blood stream; this creates inflammation, which, in turn, opens up pathways for pathogens to enter the body and cause disease.
When we wake up in the morning, there is generally quite a coating on the tongue. This is because bacteria accumulates in the mouth overnight, but we don’t want to swallow it and have the digestive system deal with it. This is where tongue scraping comes in.
Tongue scraping can stimulate the taste buds in order to keep the mouth fresh.
First of all, you should already be brushing your teeth twice a day. In classic Ayurveda, before the advent of toothbrushes neem sticks from the neem tree were used to clean the teeth. This was smart as neem naturally contains lots of anti-bacterial properties. However, for modern day practice, we are not expected to use neem sticks! Instead, use the best toothpaste available; Baldwins London actually sell herbal and neem based Theraneem toothpaste, if you want to try it.
Once you have cleaned your teeth, use a tongue scraper. I bought mine eighteen years ago. I have used it every day since, and I hope use it every day for the rest of my life! Tongue scrapers are a really good tool to invest in, so be sure to choose one that will last a long time and serve you well. On Instagram, @geetavara has some lovely ones for sale, as does @jasminehemsley. However, if you cannot afford a tongue scraper right now, try using a spoon instead. Simply turn it upside down and it will perform a similar scraping function.
First thing in the morning before even having a drink of water, brush your teeth. Then stick your tongue all the way out, place the scraper all the way at the back of the mouth and gently pull it forwards. Aim to do this action four to five times, removing any coating from the top of the tongue and washing it down the sink. Remember, while the practice is called ‘scraping’, think of it more as ‘gently removing’: you shouldn’t push too hard, as we don’t want to cause damage to the tongue.
During this process, you may feel the need to cough. This is good thing, as bacteria can often find its way to the back of the throat, so by coughing you are clearing away the harmful mucus.
Once you have finished the scraping process, it is time to put oil in the mouth.
Put half a tablespoon to a whole tablespoon of pure sesame oil in your mouth, swish it around a few times, and then spit it out. Sesame oil is known to strengthen your teeth, gums and jaw, as well as prevent tooth decay and bleeding gums. Indeed, if you tend to be over-zealous when brushing your teeth and nick the edges of your gums, the oil will also help to heal the cuts.
If you find the sesame oil creates a film or an unwanted taste, swill a mouthful of warm water around the mouth to help get rid of it. Alternatively, if you are averse to putting oil in your mouth, try putting a little bit onto a spoon instead. Take your fingertip, and gently apply the oil around the gum area. You can also use pure coconut oil if you have no sesame oil to hand.
Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing even more tips and tricks to help you build some great Ayurvedic routines. Hopefully, they will soon be imbedded in your life and you can progress with them. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting on, and why not share how tongue scraping has improved your oral hygiene? Find me on Instagram @anneheigham and on YouTube.