Tongue Scraping

What is a Tongue Scraper?

It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing to experience bad breath, but it is a common condition. However, there are solutions available. A tongue scraper can be used to help reduce the amount of build-up of odor-causing bacteria on the tongue.

Tongue scrapers come in a few different forms, but the most common is a conical-shaped plastic or metal device. They are generally inexpensive and easily accessible online or at a local convenience store.

For successful results, it is recommended to use your tongue scraper daily to help reduce the amount of debris and build-up on your tongue. Daily scraping can help reduce bad breath, increase taste sensitivity, and improve your overall oral health.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by an oral health condition like gum disease or dry mouth. In some cases, it may indicate a more serious medical condition. 

The most common causes of bad breath include:

  • Poor oral health — Gum disease and tooth decay can cause an unpleasant smell  because food and plaque debris are trapped between teeth and on the tongue.
  • Smoking — Tobacco products have a strong smell and can cause gum disease and an increased risk for oral cancer.
  • Food — Certain foods will give a strong odor like garlic, spices, and vegetables.
  • Digestive issues — Gastrointestinal problems like reflux or poor digestion can cause consumed foods to make their way back up the esophagus and cause halitosis. 
  • Dry mouth — It is common to experience dry mouth after sleeping or while taking certain medications. A lack of saliva reduces the ability to wash away food particles, which can cause bad breath.
  • Medical issues — Medical problems like sinus infections, post-nasal drip, or diabetes can also cause bad breath.

Best Overall Mastermedi

Runner Up Basic Concepts

Best on a BudgetThinkprice

For Sensitive TonguesOrabrush

Tongue Scraper Uses: Can They Get Rid of Bad Breath?

A tongue scraper helps reduce the build-up of bacteria that causes malodors, but it must be done consistently. If you use your tongue scraper in the morning, it won’t benefit you after several meals. 

The key to reducing bad breath is to brush and floss regularly and stay hydrated by drinking water, so your mouth is not dry. Using a fluoride mouthwash can also help keep your breath fresh. 

Always remember to maintain routine dental visits to ensure you do not have gum disease or tooth decay. Of course, using your tongue scraper daily can also assist in reducing these conditions. 

How to Clean Your Tongue with a Tongue Scraper

Using a tongue scraper is relatively simple and there are rarely ever any difficulties. The best way to use a tongue scraper is to practice using it in front of a mirror to become familiar with the process.

The steps include:

  1. Use the rounded end of the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue. If you feel a gag reflex, start in the middle of your tongue until you feel more comfortable. 
  2. Scrape your tongue by pulling the tongue scraper forward to the tip of your tongue.
  3. Clean the tongue scraper between uses to remove dead cells and bacteria.
  4. Repeat until the surface of your tongue is clean.
  5. Wash your tongue scraper with soap and water and store it in a clean, dry area to avoid bacterial build-up. 

Benefits of a Tongue Scraper

There are numerous benefits to using a tongue scraper. Some key advantages include: 

  • Improved appearance of the tongue — A white, coated tongue is not attractive and can help improve the look of your tongue when smiling or laughing.
  • Improved taste buds — Tongue scraping can help reduce the amount of excess debris, which may help improve overall sense of taste.
  • Improved breath — Reducing the number of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) can help improve bad breath. 
  • Improved oral care — Using a tongue scraper can help decrease bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. 

Potential Side Effects & Risks of Tongue Cleaning

There are few side effects to using a tongue scraper. It is generally a painless and simple experience.

The most commonly reported downsides are activating a gag reflex, which can cause gagging or vomiting. When this happens, you should avoid using the tongue scraper too far back.

Sometimes a person is too forceful with the tongue scraper, which may cause an accidental sore. Try to be mindful of how much pressure you use. If your tongue bleeds, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater and let your tongue heal before using it.

Always remember to wash your tongue scraper and keep it in a dry location to avoid bacterial build-up. Plastic tongue scrapers often have to be changed more frequently than stainless steel scrapers. 

How to Clean a Tongue Scraper

To clean your tongue scraper, wash it gently with warm soapy water. Keep it stored in a dry, clean place. 

Try to avoid keeping your tongue scraper in any closed container as it may cause bacterial buildup, which is harmful to your oral health and can also help eliminate bad breath.

Where to Get a Tongue Scraper

You can purchase a tongue scraper at a convenience or drug store or any online marketplace like Amazon. A tongue scraper is generally inexpensive and usually costs only a few dollars. 

Best Tongue Cleaners (+ Where to Buy)

Some of the best dentist recommended tongue cleaners include:

Mastermedi Tongue Scraper

Mastermedi

This tongue scraper is highly rated with over 38,000 reviews. It has a 100% stainless steel curved shape scraper to effectively remove debris. The U shaped tongue scraper makes it easy to use, which helps reduce the risk of gagging. The device is also very durable. 

It comes with a travel case and is perfect for on-the-go. The Mastermedi is also cost effective.

Basic Concepts Tongue Scraper

Basic Concepts

This is a patient friendly tongue scraper because of its non-slip comfort grip and extra wide, curved shaped scraper. It is 100% rust-free because it is composed of medical grade stainless steel. It is simple to sterilize to avoid any bacterial build-up. 

It comes in a 2-pack, so you can share them with a significant other or save one as a replacement.

Thinkprice Tongue Scraper

Thinkprice

This cost-effective four pack is a great option for people looking for a safe, plastic tongue scraper. It is made from BPA-free materials and is hassle free. People prefer this brand because the head is extra-wide and C shaped allowing for more bacterial removal during scraping.

The kit comes with 4 tongue scrapers and a travel case. It has good value for the price and is great for families looking to improve their oral hygiene. 

Orabrush Tongue Scraper

Orabrush

Orabrush is a highly recommended, handheld tongue scraper for people looking to loosen bacteria that is caught in deep crevices of the tongue. It contains a built in scraper with microsoft bristles to increase comfortability and ease of use. 

Resources

Bad breath. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/bad-breath

Rosenberg M. Bad breath. http://www.uptodate.com/home

Soares LG, et al. Effectiveness of full- and partial-mouth disinfection on halitosis in periodontal patients. Journal of Oral Science. 2015;57:1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25807902/

Outhouse TL, Al-Alawi R, Fedorowicz Z, Keenan JV. Tongue scraping for treating halitosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16625641/

Pedrazzi V et. al. Tongue-cleaning methods: a comparative clinical trial employing a toothbrush and a tongue scraper. J Periodontol. 2004 Jul;75(7):1009-12. doi: 10.1902/jop.2004.75.7.1009. PMID: 15341360. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15341360/

Varghese E. Interventions for managing halitosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Dec 11;12(12):CD012213. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012213.pub2. PMID: 31825092; PMCID: PMC6905014. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31825092/

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