A good brushing and flossing routine is enough to keep your mouth clean and free of bad breath. But you may want to add tongue scraping to your morning and evening dental care.
A tongue scraper is more effective than a toothbrush at removing plaque, food particles and the bad breath-causing sulphurous compounds from your tongue.
Using a tongue scraper daily reduces bad breath, removes the white coating (plaque) that forms on your tongue and reduces bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
One study also found that tongue scraping can improve sensation and taste. Read on to learn more about how to clean your tongue with (and without) a tongue scraper.
How To Use A Tongue Scraper
A tongue scraper can be plastic or metal, with a rounded edge that slides easily across the tongue.
We recommend scraping your tongue after you brush your teeth. The toothbrush will have removed the worst of the bacteria and bits of food.
- Standing in front of a mirror, stick your tongue out as far as you can. You should be able to see almost to the back of your tongue.
- Take this opportunity to observe your tongue. Look for places with lots of plaque build-up and give them extra attention when scraping.
- Take a clean tongue scraper and place it on your tongue, at the very back.
- Applying gentle pressure on your tongue, move the scrapper towards the front. It will pick up plaque and food particles as it moves.
- Spit excess saliva in the sink and rinse the scrapper under warm water.
- Repeat the scraping motion 3-5 times depending on how much build up is on your tongue. Remember to rinse the scraper every time.
- Rinse your mouth with water. You can also rinse with mouthwash.
- Keep you scraper clean and replace it regularly.
How To Clean Your Tongue Without A Tongue Scraper
1. Can I Clean My Tongue With A Brush Instead Of A Scraper
You can certainly use your normal toothbrush to clean your tongue. A soft toothbrush is the best since the tongue is quite sensitive.
To clean your tongue with a toothbrush, stick your tongue out and then brush gently from the back towards the front with a brush. Spit into the sink and rinse your mouth. Rinse the toothbrush and brush your tongue a few more time to completely get rid of plaque build-up.
You should know, however, that several studies have found a tongue scraper to be more effective than brushing. Your toothbrush will not remove as many bacteria and plaque as a tongue scraper.
One study found that tongue scrapers remove 30% more sulphur compounds than a toothbrush.
If you don’t have a tongue scraper, a toothbrush is better than nothing. But we recommend getting a tongue scraper.
2. Can I Use Mouthwash Or Mouth Rinse Instead Of A Tongue Scraper?
Yes, you can use an antiseptic mouth rinse or mouthwash to kill bacteria on your tongue. It will reduce plaque and bad breath.
But for best results, we recommend combining a mouth rinse (or mouthwash) and a tongue scraper.
Will A Tongue Scraper Completely Eliminate Bad Breath
A tongue scraper is only one way to deal with halitosis (bad breath). It will greatly reduce bad breath but it’s important to practice good all-round dental care to eliminate bad breath.
It’s also important that you use a tongue scraper regularly. If you have mild bad breath, use the scraper in the morning and evening after you brush your teeth. This will prevent a build-up of bacteria during the day and at night.
If you have severe halitosis, carry a tongue scraper with you and use it after every meal to prevent any smelly build-up. Just make sure you are gentle on your tongue to avoid any irritations and injury.
I Gag When Using a Tongue Scraper – What Do I Do?
Some people have a gag reflex when anything touches the back of the tongue. To keep yourself from vomiting, don’t scrape too far back on the tongue.
We also recommend using a tongue scraper before breakfast to reduce the risk of vomiting.
How Often Should You Use A Tongue Scraper?
To help you form a regular tongue-scraping habit, use a tongue scraper every time you brush your teeth. This way, you won’t forget to do it.
Scraping your tongue twice a day – in the morning and evening – will keep your tongue clean and reduce bad breath.
If you often experience bad breath during the day, you can add an extra after-lunch scraping.