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Wondering what a tongue scraper is—and how you actually use one? Some dentists recommend these little tools to clean your tongue and instantly freshen breath. Here, our top picks.

Kathleen Mulpeter
March 15, 2018

It may be an additional step in your routine (not to mention a little gross-sounding), but experts say there are plenty of good reasons to invest in a tongue scraper. "Tongue scrapers remove bacteria, fungus, and debris from the surface of the tongue that toothbrushes may not reach effectively," says Kay Jordan, DDS, a dentist based in Louisiana.

Think of your tongue like a shag rug, says Laurence Grayhills, DMD, a dentist in Wellington, Florida. The tongue is comprised of thousands of tiny, finger-like projections called papillae, which form the strands of that rug, he says. "Deep in the crevices of the papillae, bacteria congregate and remain relatively untouched until a tongue scraper removes them from their incubating haven." Lovely!

While he encourages everyone to use a tongue scraper, some people may benefit more than others—everyone's mouth is different, and certain people have longer papillae that enable bacteria to thrive more easily. Left undisturbed, those bacteria can contribute to bad breath, Dr. Grayhills adds. Once you start scraping, in addition to fresher breath, you might also experience better tasting food and a generally cleaner feeling.

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