5 reasons you should use a tongue scraper every day.

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What is tongue scraping?

Although tongue cleaning is not yet part of the daily routine for most people in western society, it has been recognized as an import cleaning ritual in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Jihwa Prakshalana is the ancient practice of scraping the tongue clean of food debris, dead cells, bacteria, and toxins. Ayurvedic medicine uses the appearance and health of the tongue to diagnose ailments and health disorders because the tongue was viewed as a mirror to the internal organs of the body. In Ayurvedic medicine, the health of the tongue is an indication of the health state of the whole body. Western research into the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine is very limited, but recent studies are showing that scraping the tongue clean every day will considerably reduce the bacterial load in the mouth resulting in fresher breath and potentially better health.

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Prevents bad breath.

Over 80% of halitosis (bad breath) can be attributed to a build-up of bacteria, food debris, and dead cells on the tongue.

Reduces the density of bacteria on the tongue.

The less harmful bacteria you have in your system the better. Large colonies of harmful bacteria can increase the chance of tooth decay and gum disease. It is also now known that oral bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and affect major organs and body function.

Decreases the chance of tooth decay and gum disease.

Keeping bacteria in check with a regular cleaning routine goes a long way towards avoiding tooth decay and gum disease.

Reduces the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Keeping bacteria in check with a regular cleaning routine goes a long way towards avoiding tooth decay and gum disease.

Improves tongue appearance.

Regular tongue cleanings can return the tongue to a healthy pink color.

What is a tongue scraper?

Tongue scrapers are specially designed oral health tools for cleaning the top surface of the tongue. They are usually manufactured from plastic, copper or stainless steel and are available in lots of different shapes and styles.  The most commonly used tongue scrapers are the two-handled U-shape cleaners and the single handled T-shaped cleaners. Alternatively, there are also cleaning brushes available that are designed specifically for cleaning the tongue surface.

Although it is possible to clean your tongue with your regular toothbrush, many people find that toothbrush bristles are too soft to efficiently remove heavy amounts of debris and bacteria from the tongue surface. In addition, a toothbrush is more likely to stimulate your natural gag reflex when you reach back to clean the rear third of your tongue.

Woman showing an Orabrush tongue cleaner
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Why is it important to clean your tongue?

We all know that daily teeth brushing and flossing sessions are vital for maintaining good oral health. However, many people are unaware that the majority of bacteria in the mouth is actually harbored on the tongue. The tongue accounts for 1/3 of the mouth surface area and there are about four times more bacteria on each tongue cell compared to any other cell in the mouth. The tongue is a complex organ that performs amazing tasks for us but it also happens to be a superb depository for collecting food debris and bacteria. The visible white coating on the tongue is the resulting layer of evil-smelling sulfur compounds excreted by populations of bacteria. Even a rigorous routine of teeth brushing, flossing, and water flossing will do little to reduce this carpet of bacteria on the tongue. So, if you really want to give your mouth a completely clean, it might be time to get yourself an effective tongue scraper or cleaner.

man with a healthy smile
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Oral Health

Cleaning your tongue of bacteria, dead skin cells and food debris is an excellent way of improving your oral and general health. By decreasing the amount of bacteria on your tongue you can decrease your risk of cavities, gum disease and diseases that originate in the mouth.

Bad Breath

The bacteria that cause bad breath thrive and multiply in the cracks and spaces of the tongue surface. These colonies of bacteria feed off of the remnants of the food we consume and then excrete the foul smelling waste compounds that cause bad breath.

woman with bad breath
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4 Of The Best Tongue Scrapers

We picked out 4 of the best-selling options to compare them on effectiveness, comfort, quality, and cost. A good tongue cleaner should be able to loosen and remove as much of the debris off of the surface of the tongue without causing excessive gagging or discomfort. Check out the videos below to see all 4 in action.

Tung Brush

The Tung brush is designed to be used together with the Tung gel to give the tongue a complete clean. The gel is specially formulated for deep cleaning the tongue and neutralizing bad breath odor. The Tung cleaning system is popular with many people because the combination of the circular brush and the minty flavored gel give a pleasurable experience compared to other scrapers and cleaners.

Amano Tongue Cleanser

The Amano tongue cleanser is one of the most substantial and stylishly designed tongue cleaners. The U shaped cleaning blade is forged from high-grade chromium and nickel alloy making this a durable tongue cleaning device that will last for years. The cleaning blade is ergonomically designed to minimise the gag reflex as it is moved towards the back of the throat.

Orabrush

Orabrush is probably the best known of all tongue cleaners thanks to their entertaining You tube videos. The Orabrush has a dual cleaning mechanism that is designed to loosen the debris from the tongue surface and then remove it from the mouth with its built in scraper. The Orabrush is designed to be replaced every 3 months.

Dr. Tung’s tongue Scraper

With over a million units sold worldwide the Dr. Tung tongue scraper is another popular choice. This model uses a stainless steel cleaning blade to scrape away the soft deposits from the tongue surface. The U shaped construction is designed to be held by both hands give precise control of the blade as it is depressed onto the soft tissue of the tongue.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN YOUR TONGUE?

By far the best way to clean the surface of your tongue is with a specially designed tongue scraper. They are cheap, readily available and have been proven to be more effective than cleaning with a regular toothbrush. A toothbrush is designed for cleaning the smooth surface of tooth enamel and is ill-equipped for cleaning the rough surface of the tongue. Although a toothbrush will dislodge bacteria and debris it does not do a great job of actually removing it from the mouth. When cleaning your tongue, it is more beneficial to use a tongue scraper that collects the debris as it cleans so all the unpleasantness can be removed from the mouth and rinsed away down the sink. Cleaning a lot of bacteria off the tongue and then swallowing it is never a good idea!

woman cleaning tongue with a Dr Tung's tongue scraper
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Tongue Scraper Reviews

Orabrush

DenTek’s Orabrush Tongue Cleaner designed like a toothbrush, but with a different head, has super soft bristles, requires no paste or gels to work, and combines both the brush and the scraper in one simple design head.

To use, you gently brush your tongue with the OraBrush, then place the plastic scraper at the back of your tongue and remove the residue generated by your brushing, before finally rinsing clean. Similar to a toothbrush, it requires replacing every three to four months.

woman holding an Orabrush tongue scraper
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Verdict – Similarly, with DenTek’s OraBrush Tongue Cleaner which has the shape of a toothbrush, but featuring a very different type of head. The minute one makes contact with the bristles, you realize that using a toothbrush to clean your teeth is just not the right approach. Feeling like a soft nail brush gently gliding across your tongue, it collects the debris satisfactorily, judging by the deposits of gunk that was subsequently washed off under the running tap after use. Simple to use, clean, and store, it worked well; however, it will need replacing every few months, and it didn’t feel quite as effective at removing debris from the tongue as the metal scrapers. 4/5

Tongue Scraper Reviews

TUNG BRUSH

Peak Essential’s The Original Tung Brush is an American product, as indicated by the Star Spangled Banner and ‘Made in America’ emblazoned on its packaging. At first glance, it’s very similar in design to a standard toothbrush, with the main difference being its flat, circular head and bristle design. It’s intended to be used in conjunction with Peak Essential’s Original Tung Gel, which is a fresh mint gel which contains zinc. (The brush came packaged with a free sample of gel.)

To use, you apply the gel to the brush head, then gently brush forward from the base of your extended tongue to the tip for approximately ten seconds, then rinse clean. It recommends using every time you brush your teeth and replace at least every three months, whenever your toothbrush needs replacing.

woman cleaning tongue with a tung brush and gel
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VERDICT

– As  The Original Tung Brush looks like a standard toothbrush, one immediately might feel that it may be another unnecessary addition to the bathroom, until one comes into contact with this design’s round, much softer bristle head. Comfortable on the surface of the tongue, the gel taste was pleasant enough and left a fresh aftertaste. Straightforward to use, if slightly more fuss than the Amano and Dr. Tung, it was still very effective, though will require replacing every few months. 4/5

Tongue Scraper Reviews

AMANO TONGUE CLEANSER

Amano was founded in London in 1992 and have been manufacturing high-quality tongue cleaners ever since. The Amano tongue cleansers are crafted in Italy and come in a very stylish and hygienic plastic storage case. With a curved cleaning blade made of high-grade chromium and nickel alloy, these tongue scrapers are easy to use and easy to keep clean. According to the manufacturers, it’s based on a 2000-year-old Roman design, which has now been given a 21st Century update. To use, you simply hold the handles in each hand, and place the metal head towards the back of your extended tongue, then draw it gently forward across the surface to the tip, rinse, and repeat if necessary.

It is recommended to use before bed and also after activities such as consuming rich food, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Designed to last for many years, its performance can be maintained by simply rinsing in hot water after use, and is even dishwasher safe.

image of an Amano tongue cleanser.
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VERDICT

– The Amano Tongue Cleanser is by far the most aesthetically pleasing of all the tongue scrapers available. Undoubtedly the Italian craftsmanship is to thank for the range of colorful and artistic designs available. The storage case that comes with the cleaner is a welcome extra that will keep the tongue scraper free from the types of bacteria that usually populate bathroom spaces. According to Amano, the scraper blade is precision designed to stop you gagging as you slide it to the back of the tongue. Although it didn’t stop the gag reflex completely when I tested it, it did minimize it to an acceptable level and I found it reasonably pleasant to use. The two handles make it very easy to coordinate and apply the most comfortable pressure as it slides over the tongue surface. Perhaps, the metal scraper touching one’s tongue is not to everyone’s’ taste, but it is very easy to use and clean, will last a long time, and, most importantly, it is also very effective. 5/5

Tongue Scraper Reviews

DR. TUNG’S

Made of stainless steel, which is impervious to bacteria, and with (in this sample, blue) plastic handles to grip the device, either with one or two hands, Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner has curved cleaning edges to allow precise control and comfort. Just as many people prefer eating with silverware utensils rather than plastic, the same can apply to tongue cleaning. The cleaner resembles a pair of tongs, but in reverse, as it’s the curved end which is used to cleanse the tongue, and glides across it to remove bacteria. According to the packaging, dental experts say it is about 5 times more effective for tongue cleaning than a toothbrush.

It also comes equipped with an extremely handy and useful travel pouch. To use, you place the cleaner as far back on the tongue as is comfortable, then gently slide it forward and repeat three or four times. For best results it’s recommended to use twice daily, and is easy to keep clean; just rinse after use, and it will last for years.

image of a Dr tung's tongue scraper
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VERDICT

– Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner, with its grip handles and stainless steel scraper, is similar in design to the Amano. Also, it’s travel pouch is a useful free accessory. Again, simple to use and maintain, whilst being very effective. The only reason for giving it less than the Amano, is the travel pouch felt less practical than the other’s plastic holder. 4.9/5

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions on buying, using and cleaning tongue scrapers and brushes.

Can I just use a toothbrush to clean my tongue?

Generally speaking, the bristles on a regular toothbrush are too soft to mechanically remove the layer of debris and bacteria from the tongue surface. Toothbrushes are designed to clean the smooth surfaces of enamel rather than the soft tissue of the tongue. In addition, a toothbrush is more likely to induce your natural gag reflex when you try to clean the rear third of your tongue. Cleaning your tongue with a dedicated tongue cleaner is usually a better option because they are ergonomically designed to remove the maximum amount of film without causing discomfort.

How long do tongue scrapers last?

The recommended lifespan of a tongue scraper depends on the brand. Plastic models like the Orabrush or Tung brush should be replaced every 3 months but metal bladed scrapers like the Amano tongue cleanser will last for many years.

Why not just use mouthwash instead of tongue cleaning to get rid of bad breath?

Although some mouthwashes can be useful, relying on them as a bad breath solution is not a good idea. Mouthwashes can be effective as a quick fix in an emergency because they can certainly neutralize foul-smelling odor, but unfortunately, they are usually just masking the problem rather than curing it. By using a tongue scraper, you can safely remove the root cause of bad breath by scraping away the layer of bacteria and food debris from the tongue surface.

How do I clean a tongue scraper?

After using a tongue cleaning device just rinse it under the tap and allow to air dry. To sanitize the scraper you can dip it in an antibacterial mouthwash. In addition, many tongue cleaners can safely be cleaned in a dishwasher.

If 90% of bad breath comes from the tongue, do we really need to brush our teeth?

Yes! Tongue cleaning should be part of your daily oral health routine but it does not replace the need to brush your teeth. It is vital to remove bacterial plaque from your teeth every day in order to avoid cavities and gum disease. It is recommended to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day.

 What should I do if cleaning my tongue makes me gag?

It is completely normal for the back of the throat to spasm when something like a tongue cleaner is moved towards the rear of the mouth. Having said that, if you use a specially designed scraper you should be able to clean your tongue without too much discomfort. If you are finding it difficult to clean your tongue without gagging, try slowing moving the scraper to the rear of the mouth and then cleaning with forwarding motions only.

 Is tongue scraping painful?

Cleaning your tongue should not be painful, if you find that your tongue feels tender or sore afterward, you may be applying too much pressure with your cleaning device. Try using gentler cleaning motions and only clean your tongue every second or third day until you get used to the process. If you continue to experience pain and sensitivity it is best to discontinue using a tongue scraper and seek advice from your dentist.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

38 Comments

  1. What an excellent and thorough review! Many thanks for recognising the superior effectiveness AND aesthetic attraction of our Italian AMANO tongue cleansers. This week (24 March 2017) The British Dental Journal described our all austenitic steel AMANO2107 “The Roman Emperor of tongue scrapers”! http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v222/n6/full/sj.bdj.2017.278.html
    Cheers Mano CEO AMANO PRODUCTS UK

    Reply
    • Thank you. We are big fans of your cleansers!

      Reply
      • Simply loved the video 🙂
        Have to say – we have been shy about showing a full-on tongue scrape on our website but you have shown it can be done aesthetically
        Any chance we can use the video in a Blog we do …?
        We will give your site a mention needless to say …
        Once again thank you for your endorsement!
        Cheers
        Mano

        Reply
  2. Hi
    Your video and mention is on our website:

    Thanks again for letting us use it 🙂

    Reply
  3. Tongue cleaning is not something I have tried before, I might give it a go now.

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  4. yes I do and yes it should be included along with your teeth

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  5. Yes I have, don’t know if the ones I used were very good though. Would love to try this as my teeth have deteriorated due to illnesses and my medication, i’m Very paranoid about bad breath as my mouth can get quick dry.

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  6. No I hadn’t before but now I know all the facts I will in future. Great and informative review.

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  7. Yes always do with my tooth brush

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  8. I do clean my tongue with my toothbrush – dry mouth due to medications – always seem to have a coated tongue – sounds perfect

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  9. Yes I always do, makes me feel nice and clean x

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  10. I always use a tongue scraper – my partner thinks I’m nuts because they look like torture devices to him!

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  11. Yes, probably not as regimented as I should be but I think its important.

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  12. Yes I use one, but this one looks much better. 👅

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  13. Not very often, but makes sense to get rid of bacteria.

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  14. Always. It’s an essential part of your daily routine. Your mouth feels so fresh afterwards.

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  15. No I don’t, but I think I should, I think it’s important for hygiene and fresh breath

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  16. I try and always do it with the back of a toothbrush but it never does it properly.

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  17. After every brushing, you’d be surprised to see what lurks on there!!

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  18. Yes I definitely think it is very important 🙂

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  19. Yes I have an electric toothbrush and use that to clean my tongue, this would be easier, it is important as it is a part off your mouth and where most food goes, I also have a tongue piercing so need to keep it clean

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  20. No because it makes me gag but really feel as should as part of my oral regime

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  21. Never used one before. Have tried using a toothbrush though….not too good!

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  22. Not used a tongue cleaner before, but I do think they are a good idea.

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  23. So important to clean your tongue to feel fresh.

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  24. No but I think I should! This would be great.

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  25. I don’t but I really think I should!

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  26. Yes, yes. I presently use toothbrush. Though would like most effective tool for tongue cleansing, as I do believe it is necessary and worthwhile.

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  27. i dont clean my tongue but its probably a good idea

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  28. I do clean my tongue once a week and i do think everybody should be doing this.

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  29. I use my toothbrush to clean my tongue, although I’m going to buy a proper tongue scraper after reading this great review

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  30. Not at all maybe I should.

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  31. I occasionally use the ridges on the back of my toothbrush to clean my tongue, but I’m not sure if that was what they are there for.

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  32. It is definitely essential to clean your tongue during your morning and night oral hygiene routine. There must be so many germs on your tongue.

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  33. I always brush my tongue first thing in the morning. I feel better for it.

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  34. I always brush my tongue morning and night..My mouth doesn’t feel clean if I don’t. The tongue cleanser looks fab. I want one.

    Reply
  35. I do clean my tongue, I’ve no idea if it’s really necessary but I like to do it

    Reply

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