Most people know that brushing twice a day and flossing is important for maintaining good oral health, but there is another oral health tool that is not commonly used: a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers may seem odd, but there are many benefits to using one. Tongue scrapers can help to eliminate bad breath by removing bacteria, and may be more effective than brushing your tongue with a toothbrush.
Bad breath is caused by bacteria. Chronic bad breath is usually a sign of gum disease, which requires treatment from a dentist. Everyday bad breath can be controlled by brushing and flossing your teeth to remove food particles. Bacteria can also cling to your tongue, so if you aren’t brushing it or using a tongue scraper, you may still have bad breath even after brushing and flossing.
There are several different types of tongue scrapers available. You can use a toothbrush to clean your tongue, but toothbrushes are designed for teeth, while tongue scrapers are designed for the shape of the tongue. A common type of tongue scraper is made of stainless steel. This type is gentle on the tongue, but effective at gathering bacteria. You use it by swiping it over the surface of your tongue, starting at the back and pulling towards the front.
Some people find brushing their tongue with a toothbrush or bristled tongue cleaner to be uncomfortable, but brushing can help to scrape off bacteria. If you choose a brush for your tongue, use a soft-bristled one.
Plastic tongue cleaners are usually smaller than metal ones. Some people have a problem with larger metal tongue scrapers triggering their gag reflex. A smaller plastic tongue scraper may work better if you have this problem, or you can work on overcoming your gag reflex with a metal scraper or toothbrush by practicing placing it as far back on your tongue as you can without gagging, then gradually placing it farther back little by little.
You should remember that chronic bad breath is usually a sign of gum disease and cannot be cured by at-home oral hygiene. Regular dental exams can catch gum disease early and provide dental cleanings to combat bacteria and plaque buildup. Tongue scrapers can help to remove bad breath that’s caused by foods or beverages and are a good addition to your daily oral hygiene routine.