While cleaning your tongue with a scraper or toothbrush isn't necessary for good oral hygiene, it's a great way to get that 'clean mouth' feeling after you brush.
There's no proof that tongue scraping will prevent bad breath or halitosis (chronic bad breath). Some people believe that scraping the tongue removes harmful bacteria that can cause gingivitis, cavities, and mouth ulcers. Unfortunately, any removed oral bacteria will quickly redevelop.
What is tongue scraping?
Tongue scraping is done with a toothbrush, tongue scraper or tongue brush. Tongue scrapers are sold in most drugstores. During tongue scraping, a tool is placed at the back of the tongue and then pulled forward, to remove tongue coating and residue.
Should I scrape my tongue before or after I brush my teeth?
Brush and floss your teeth before cleaning your tongue.
Should I use a toothbrush or a tongue scraper to scrape my tongue?
Toothbrushes are designed to clean tooth enamel and may not thoroughly clean the tongue. The tongue has tiny crevices that contain bacteria. A toothbrush won't be able to clean the tongue's irregular surface as efficiently as a tongue scrape.
How to Scrape Your Tongue
- After you've brushed and flossed, open your mouth wide and place the scraper or toothbrush on the back of the tongue. Do not place the tool too far back on the tongue as it may trigger the gag reflex.
- Apply light pressure and pull the tool forward to the tip of the tongue to remove residue. If the scraper hurts, try less pressure. If you still have pain or notice bleeding, stop using the scraper. The tool may have rough edges which may cause injury.
- Make one pass with the tool.
- Rinse the tool in warm water.
- Scrape the tongue a second time if needed.
- Rinse your mouth with water and spit it out.
- Wash the tool with soap and water and store it in a clean, dry place.
- Repeat the process twice a day as needed to remove oral bacteria and sulfur compounds that redevelop on the tongue.
Can tongue scraping help prevent bad breath?
Some people who perform tongue scraping say that it keeps their breath fresher, but there is no reliable proof that brushing or scraping the tongue prevents bad breath or improves halitosis.
Although cleaning the tongue may temporarily reduce odor, a combination of tongue scraping and a mouth rinse is the best choice.
Does tongue scraping help prevent oral thrush?
There is no scientific proof that tongue scraping prevents oral thrush.
Cleaning your tongue is optional, but many people consider tongue cleaning an essential part of oral hygiene. If you're thinking about cleaning your tongue, ask your dentist about which cleaning tool is best for you and how to use it.