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What is tongue scraping?
Tongue scraping is a fast way to remove extra particles — including the ones that cause bad breath — from the surface of your tongue. It’s done with a small, slightly rounded tool made from plastic or metal.
Although no amount of scraping can replace a good toothbrushing, its purported benefits have enticed quite a few to add this extra step to their morning and evening routines.
Read on to learn more about how tongue scraping can improve your oral health, common misconceptions to keep in mind, and how to get started.
Debris, bacteria, and dead cells can build up on your tongue over time. This can lead to bad breath and have a negative impact on your overall oral health.
Using a tongue scraper can help remove this buildup, as well as:
- Improve your sense of taste.
Older researchsuggests that using a tongue scraper twice daily can improve your sense of taste. Your tongue may be able to better distinguish between bitter, sweet, salty, and sour sensations.
- Improve the appearance of your tongue. Buildup of excess debris can cause your tongue to take on a white, coated appearance. Daily scraping
can helpremove this coating and prevent it from returning.
- Remove bacteria. Researchers in one
2005 studyfound that using a tongue scraper twice a day for seven days reduced the overall incidence of Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria types are known to cause bad breath and dental decay.
- Improve overall health. Removing bacteria is key to preventing cavities, gum disease, and other conditions affecting the mouth. Tongue scraping can
help clearthese bacteria from the mouth, improvingyour tongue’s appearance and overall sensation.
- Reduce bad breath. Although tongue scraping can’t replace brushing your teeth, scraping may do some things better. Researchers in one 2004 study found that scraping was more effective than brushing at removing odor-causing bacteria.
A common misconception about tongue scraping is that it offers extended benefits in reducing bad breath. Although scraping can help banish bad breath, consistency is key.
For example, using a tongue scraper in the morning won’t prevent bad breath from developing later in the day. Bacteria will build up as you eat and drink, so if you’re concerned about bad breath, you’ll need to scrape after every meal.
At a minimum, scrape your tongue when you brush your teeth. This will help prevent long-term buildup that’s associated with severe bad breath.
Another misconception is that using a toothbrush on your tongue is just as effective as using a tongue scraper. The results of one 2004 study suggest otherwise. Researchers found that tongue scrapers removed 30 percent more volatile sulfur compounds on the tongue than a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Although cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush is better than not cleaning it at all, using a tongue scraper is more effective.
To perform tongue scraping, you’ll need the right tool — a tongue scraper. A quick search for tongue scrapers can reveal lots of options. These include ones made from plastic, copper, and stainless steel.
Most will have a slightly rounded shape, much like an inverted spoon. If you’re in a pinch, household items like a spoon (clean, of course) or your toothbrush will do. However, they may not remove as much odor-causing bacteria as a dedicated tongue scraper.
To perform tongue scraping, follow these steps:
- Stand in front of a mirror, open your mouth, and stick out your tongue.
- Gently set the rounded end of the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue.
- If you’re worried about gagging, you may find it helpful to start at the middle of your tongue. You can gradually start from farther back as you get used to scraping.
- Gently touch the scraper to your tongue. Slowly pull it forward, toward the tip of your tongue. You should never push the scraper from the tip of your tongue back. Always go from the back of the tongue to the tip.
- After each scrape, use a washcloth or tissue to remove debris from the scraper.
- Repeat until you’ve scraped the entire surface of your tongue. One to two scrapes across the same area is usually enough.
- Wash the tongue scraper with warm water and soap, dry, and store in a clean, dry area.
The entire process usually takes less than two minutes. Repeat as needed throughout the day.
One of the biggest concerns about tongue scraping is stimulating the gag reflex. This could make you vomit while tongue scraping.
To avoid this, refrain from placing the scraper too far back on your tongue. When you first start scraping, you may find it helpful to scrape from the middle of your tongue to the tip. You can gradually start from farther back as you get used to the sensation.
It’s also possible to accidentally cut the surface of your tongue with the scraper.
To prevent this from occurring, make sure your tongue scraper doesn’t have any uneven or rough edges. You should inspect your scraper before every use to ensure that it’s still safe to use.
You should be mindful of how much pressure you’re applying. You want to be gentle enough to avoid harming your taste buds or breaking the skin, but firm enough to scrape up excess debris. When in doubt, start soft and gradually increase the pressure.
Tongue scrapers can be made with plastic or different metals. Which one you choose depends on your personal preference.
Metal tongue scrapers are generally thought to last longer. Many are dishwasher-safe, too. Plastic ones are usually cheaper, but may need to be replaced more frequently. Most tongue scrapers cost less than $10.
Examples of some of the more popular and highly rated tongue scrapers on Amazon include:
Tongue scraping can be beneficial, but you won’t achieve your desired results if you aren’t taking a well-rounded approach to oral hygiene.
You can help maintain and even improve your overall oral health if you:
- Use a fluoride-based toothpaste and mouthwash to help fight cavities.
- Brush your teeth and gums at least twice a day.
- Make sure you brush for at least two minutes. Set a timer or play a song on your phone to help ensure that each session is long enough.
- Floss at least once a day to remove tough-to-reach debris between your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to reduce dry mouth, a common cause of bad breath.
- Avoid using tobacco products, which can contribute to buildup on the tongue.
You should also see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Most dentists recommend cleanings twice a year, but you may need to go more frequently depending on your overall dental health.
Although home methods like tongue scraping can help reduce tongue buildup, it isn’t a cure-all.
See your dentist right away if you’re dealing with chronic dry mouth or have a “hairy tongue.” They can assess your symptoms and determine whether you’d benefit from more frequent cleanings, special mouthwash, or other treatment options.
Sometimes, tongue scraping can reveal symptoms that your dentist should evaluate. This includes white patches in the mouth. Such patches are usually caused by oral thrush or leukoplakia and can be treated under your dentist’s supervision.
No, scraping is good for your oral health, as it removes bacteria and plaque from your tongue's surface. However, scraping your tongue with a spoon isn't very effective. Instead, you should use a tongue scraper. A tongue scraper removes odor-causing bacteria more effectively from your tongue than a toothbrush.Can you damage your tongue by scraping? ›
A tongue scraper should not be applied with so much pressure that you fear your taste buds are in harm's way. Cleaning your tongue with a scraper is a gentle process and does not inflict any pain or cause damage to your tongue.How do you clean a tongue with a spoon? ›
You can either purchase a tongue scraper in the toothbrush aisle of your local drugstore, or even use a spoon from home! Just moisten the spoon, turn it upside down and place it at the back of your tongue and drive it forward. You'll notice that using a tongue scraper/spoon has less of a tendency to gag.How long does tongue scraping take to work? ›
Removes harmful bacteria
In a 2005 study, researchers discovered that using a tongue scraper twice a day for seven days reduced the presence of two types of bacteria in the mouth: Mutans streptococci and various Lactobacilli. These types are directly linked to both bad breath and dental decay.
Should you scrape your tongue before or after brushing? You should scrape your tongue once a day, and most experts recommend that you do it after brushing either in the morning or evening.How does a healthy tongue look? ›
A healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small nodules (papillae). Any deviation from your tongue's normal appearance, or any pain, may be cause for concern. Family physician Daniel Allan, MD, discusses why you should watch for changes that might need to be evaluated by a doctor or dentist.Why is my tongue white? ›
White tongue is the result of an overgrowth and swelling of the fingerlike projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue. The appearance of a white coating is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged between the enlarged and sometimes inflamed papillae.What a clean tongue looks like? ›
A healthy tongue should be pink in color with small nodules called papillae over the surface. Certain medical disorders may cause your tongue to change in appearance, and a color-changing tongue could be your first indication of a severe underlying issue.How can I clean my tongue? ›
To ensure that you keep bacteria and plaque away, it is best to clean your tongue twice a day. A good rule of thumb is to brush or scrape your tongue right after you brush your teeth. Doing it before bed will help reduce the amount of bacteria able to grow, which reduces the chance of morning breath in the morning.What does a tongue scraper remove? ›
A tongue scraper is a tool that can be used to remove bacteria and other food debri from the tongue. They are sold as another method to remove the cause of root of bad breath. However, there may be other effective ways to maintain proper oral hygiene.
- Brush your tongue regularly. Each time you brush your teeth, it is important to remember to brush your tongue as well. ...
- Try a tongue scraper. ...
- Rinse well. ...
- Drink green tea. ...
- Monitor the color of your tongue. ...
- Drink plenty of water.
Scraping your tongue generally takes no longer than two minutes. You can repeat this process throughout the day as needed. Tongue scraping can easily be added to your mouth and teeth cleaning routine. For example, scrape your tongue before brushing your teeth.Why is my tongue yellow? ›
Yellow tongue usually occurs as a result of a harmless buildup of dead skin cells on the tiny projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue. Most commonly this occurs when your papillae become enlarged and bacteria in your mouth produce colored pigments.What color should my tongue be? ›
A healthy tongue is usually pink with a thin whitish coating. There should be no cracks or ulcers on the surface and its size should be of medium thickness. The tongue also contains small nodules that may feel slightly fuzzy. These are known as papillae and are essentially hairs that form between the taste buds.How can I clean my tongue naturally? ›
Position your toothbrush at the back of the tongue. Brush lightly forward and backward along your tongue. Spit out saliva that appears during the brushing and rinse out the toothbrush with warm water. Clean your tongue as often as you brush your teeth.Do you brush your teeth before using a tongue scraper? ›
You can use a tongue scraper before or after brushing your teeth, depending on your personal preference. It doesn't matter when you clean your tongue, as long as you do it at least twice per day. Millions of bacteria live in your mouth, some good and some bad.How many times a day should you use a tongue scraper? ›
Bacteria will build up as you eat and drink, so if you're concerned about bad breath, you'll need to scrape after every meal. At a minimum, scrape your tongue when you brush your teeth. This will help prevent long-term buildup that's associated with severe bad breath.Does tongue scraping help immune system? ›
Boosts Your Immunity
Lastly, scraping your tongue can also benefit your immune system. This is because a buildup of bacteria and toxins in your mouth can suppress your immune system, making you more prone to getting sick as your body constantly fights against the bad bacteria in your mouth.
Given that digestion begins with taste, the ancient medical system says that removing tongue buildup ultimately makes the entire digestive process run more smoothly. Scraping also activates saliva production and promotes agni (the body's digestive fire) to help with digestion throughout the day.Should my tongue be white? ›
A white tongue is usually nothing to worry about. But on rare occasions, this symptom can warn of a more serious condition like an infection or early cancer. That's why it's important to keep an eye on your other symptoms, and call your doctor if the white coating doesn't go away in a couple of weeks.
A pink tongue is healthy and normal. A red tongue may indicate heat in the body like a fever or a hormonal imbalance. A reddish purple tongue is a sign that there may be inflammation or an infection in the body. A pale pink tongue may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency, a weak immune system or a lack of energy.How can I clean my white tongue? ›
Brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper to remove the white coating. If you don't have a tongue scraper, you can turn over a teaspoon. Using a straw when having cold drinks. Avoiding substances that can irritate your tongue like alcohol mouthwashes that contain alcohol and cigarettes.Why is my tongue black? ›
Black hairy tongue is caused by an overgrowth of dead skin cells, causing lengthening of the papillae, and staining from bacteria, yeast, food, tobacco or other substances in the mouth. Black hairy tongue is a temporary, harmless oral condition that gives the tongue a dark, furry appearance.What is milk tongue? ›
Noun. milk tongue (uncountable) patching on a baby's tongue, caused by milk, sometimes confused with oral thrush.Why is my tongue green? ›
While green tongue has many causes, it's often a sign of a bacterial, fungal, or yeast overgrowth. If there are lesions in the mouth, these substances can cause serious infections. It's important to seek treatment for a green tongue right away.How dirty is your tongue? ›
The foundation of good oral hygiene includes regular checkups with a dentist and maintaining your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing. But since your tongue harbors an estimated 50% of the bacteria in your mouth, you don't want to neglect it.Why do dentists wipe your tongue? ›
The bacteria and other debris trapped on the tongue can cause bad breath, or halitosis, and a white discolouration of the tongue. In addition, the bacteria on the tongue can redeposit onto teeth and gums, even after they've been cleaned, increasing the likelihood of plaque and tartar buildup.What color is normal under tongue? ›
A healthy tongue is typically pink in color, but it can still vary slightly in dark and light shades. Your tongue also has small nodules on the top and bottom.What foods help clean tongue? ›
Your tongue thrives on iron-rich foods, which include leafy greens like spinach as well as red meats, seafood, and poultry. To further fight against harmful bacteria in the mouth, foods with anti-microbial components like chopped onions, ginger, garlic, and coconuts can also give your tongue a health boost.Why is my tongue Brown? ›
Brown tongue can be caused by brown foods like coffee. Hairy tongue can also cause a brown or blackish appearance. This is caused by elongated proteins of the tongue when they retain food and bacteria. If you scrape your tongue well with a toothbrush, it should improve.
- Best Overall: Dr. ...
- Top Dentist Recommended: Oolitt Breath Wand Tongue Cleaner. ...
- Most Gentle: ScrapeYourTongue Daily Tongue Scraper. ...
- Best Value Set: Orabrush Tongue Scraper Set. ...
- Best for Bad Breath: Gum Dual Action Tongue Cleaner Brush. ...
- Best for White Tongue and Thrush: MasterMedi Tongue Scraper.
A tongue cleaner (also called a tongue scraper or tongue brush) is an oral hygiene device designed to clean the coating on the upper surface of the tongue.Can you reuse tongue scraper? ›
With proper sterilization, stainless steel scrapers can be reused but they are usually more expensive. Rinse your brush or scraper first. Before you clean your tongue with your toothbrush or scraper, be sure to rinse it well with clean water as lack of moisture can cause irritation.Are tongue scrapers good for your tongue? ›
Tongue Scraping Benefits
In theory, scraping your tongue could help maintain the right balance of “good” bacteria in your mouth. This good bacteria could produce more nitric oxide, which nourishes stem cells that help to repair and replace older damaged cells.
Briefly rinse your tongue scraper off, then repeat the process 2-3 more times or until you feel like your tongue is fairly clean. You really only need to use a tongue scraper once a day. But if you prefer, you can use it as often as you brush. Just be gentle if you're tongue scraping more than once a day.How often should you use tongue scraper? ›
You should scrape your tongue once a day, and most experts recommend that you do it after brushing either in the morning or evening.Do dentists recommend tongue scraping? ›
In addition to brushing your teeth twice each day and flossing at least once, it is also important to take good care of your tongue. Bacteria can build up on your tongue throughout the day. For some patients, using a tongue scraper can be the best solution for a cleaner, healthier tongue.Should I use tongue scraper everyday? ›
Should you scrape your tongue before or after brushing? You should scrape your tongue once a day, and most experts recommend that you do it after brushing either in the morning or evening.What type of tongue scraper is better? ›
Not only are metal tongue scrapers more effective, but they also outcompete plastic ones that need to be replaced more often, are prone to breaking, and can become visibly dirty. Not to mention, they're more sustainable, too!Do tongue scrapers remove bacteria? ›
Overall, tongue scrapers are definitely a worthwhile hygiene tool to use. They are effective at removing bacteria from the tongue surface, which can help to improve oral health. So, if you are looking for an easy way to keep your mouth healthy, tongue scrapers are a great option!
Tongue scraping is a painless and low risk procedure. If tongue scraping causes pain or bleeding, the person should stop using the scraper. They might be using it with too much force, or there may be uneven edges on the scraper that could be injuring the tongue.Should I brush my tongue with toothpaste? ›
Do you really need to clean your tongue using your toothbrush and toothpaste? You certainly do. Fluoride toothpaste can clean your tongue just as effectively as cleaning your teeth.