The 9 Best Tongue Scrapers of 2023

Dentists say the MasterMedi Tongue Scraper is “the last scraper you'll ever need to buy.”

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Tongue Scrapper

Courtesy of Amazon / Photo Illustration by Kevin Liang for Health

Between brushing your teeth, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, do you really need to pay your tongue any special attention to keep your mouth clean? According to the dentists and orthodontists we spoke to—yes, you do. They recommend using a tongue scraper over brushing your tongue with your toothbrush, and it’s also recommended by the National Institute on Aging for oral cleanliness.

Reviewed & Approved

The MasterMedi Tongue Scraper with Travel Case comes recommended by multiple dentists who say the U shape is most effective to remove bacteria that creates a film on the tongue. Made of stainless steel, it’s also going to last significantly longer than any plastic tongue cleaner. The DenTek Tongue Cleaner, Fresh Mint is a budget-friendly and sturdy option for those who prefer the flexibility of plastic tongue scrapers. The triple-edge design lifts bacteria from multiple angles for a deep clean.

So, what is a tongue scraper? “It’s a specialized dental tool used to clean the tongue as part of your oral hygiene routine,” explains Marina Gonchar, DMD, a board-certified orthodontist and the founder of Skin to Smile in Morristown, New Jersey.

Everyone can benefit from using a tongue scraper, according to Sean Tomalty, DMD, a dentist and owner of Shoreline Smiles in Jupiter, Florida. “Unless your dentist advises against it, everyone should be using a tongue scraper,” he says, adding that these tools are more effective at removing bacteria than brushing your teeth (though that part is non-negotiable). The reason is because the tongue harbors quite a bit of bacteria, yet it’s often missed in many people’s oral hygiene routines.

While anyone can use a tongue scraper, certain people may benefit from it the most—particularly the one-third of people affected by halitosis (the fancy term for bad breath). Poor oral hygiene can cause bad breath, according to John Hopkins Medicine, but this can be remedied. Mouth breathing can also cause bad breath. “People that have a tendency to breathe through their mouth, especially during sleeping hours, should try to incorporate a tongue scraper into their oral hygiene routine, as they are more likely to notice bad breath due to an imbalance of oral bacteria,” Dr. Gonchar explains.

To find the best tongue scrapers, we asked dentists and orthodontists for their top recommendations and criteria on what to look for. The general consensus was that metal tongue scrapers are best, but some people may prefer the gentleness of plastic cleaners.

Best Overall

mastermedi Tongue Scraper

mastermedi Tongue Scraper

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Like It: Medical grade stainless steel is easy to clean and long-lasting, so you can prevent bacteria buildup and hold onto it for years.

It’s Worth Noting: Though it’s more sanitary, some people prefer the gentleness of plastic cleaners.

According to the dentists we spoke to, there are two main types of tongue cleaners—plastic and metal. If you’re looking for a durable tongue scraper that you won’t have to replace for many years to come, stainless steel is the best choice. And our dentists both agree that the MasterMedi Tongue Scraper is the best overall. It also happens to be made of 100 percent medical-grade stainless steel.

“This is a simple metal tongue scraper without abrasive bristles,” Dr. Gonchar says. “The metal is easy to clean, won’t harbor bacteria when properly sanitized, and has the perfect ergonomic shape for its purpose.” One problem people often run into with tongue scrapers is gagging, but not with this option. Gagging is a natural but uncomfortable reflex, so this cleaner has an extra-wide design to avoid this.

Dr. Tomalty also recommends this tongue scraper as his top pick for its metal material and effective U shape. He also likes a bargain. “For less than $5 each, you can have a tongue scraper that will never go bad,” he says, adding that the MasterMedi will be “the last scraper you’ll ever need to buy.”

Price at time of publication: $10

Product Details:

  • Material: 100 percent medical grade stainless steel
  • Quantity: 2
  • Storage Case: Yes

Best Budget

DenTek Tongue Cleaner, Fresh Mint

DenTek Tongue Cleaner, Fresh Mint

Amazon

Why We Like It: Tongue scraping improves bad breath, and this one has three edges to lift and remove odor-causing bacteria.

It’s Worth Noting: Made of plastic, it needs to be replaced every so often.

Between metal and plastic tongue scrapers, some prefer the flexibility and gentleness of plastic. Plastic may also be more child-friendly than metal, though children should be monitored when using any tongue scraper. 

This DenTek Tongue Cleaner is made of sturdy plastic, so it’s not as flimsy as other options that aren’t rigid enough to effectively clean the tongue. It has a unique triple-edge design that scrubs, lifts, and scrapes away bacteria with each swipe. To clean hard-to-reach places, it has a curved head that’s easy to maneuver and unlikely to trigger the gag reflex.

For those struggling with a stubborn case of bad breath, scraping your tongue may be the missing step in your oral hygiene routine. The tongue harbors sulfur-producing bacteria, which can lead to bad breath. Tongue scraping can remove this bacteria and thereby improve bad breath—potentially even more effectively than brushing your teeth alone, according to a 2004 clinical trial in the Journal of Periodontology.

This one by DenTek is an affordable entry into tongue cleaning, but you should replace it as often as your toothbrush. According to the American Dental Association, that would be every 3-4 months.

Price at time of publication: $9

Product Details:

  • Material: Plastic
  • Quantity: 2
  • Storage Case: No

Best for Kids

Peak Essentials The Original Kids TUNG Brush

Peak Essentials The Original Kids TUNG Brush

Amazon

Why We Like It: Kids have tongues, too, and this child-size tongue brush helps ward off bad breath and cavities in children.

It’s Worth Noting: The bristles are a bit coarse, so you’ll want to be extra gentle.

Tongue scraping isn’t just a solution for bad breath—it’s also an effective way to reduce the risk of developing cavities. Cavities, or tooth decay, are among the most common childhood health conditions in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tongue scraping may help prevent cavities, per the Cleveland Clinic, so parents should consider incorporating a tongue scraper or cleaner.

There’s just one problem: Most tongue scrapers are made for adult-size mouths, so they’re too large for kids. The Original Kids TUNG Brush made by Peak Essentials is kid-sized to minimize gagging and reach the nooks and crannies on little tongues. It’s shaped like a toothbrush with a round head to cover more surface area. Like a toothbrush, it also has bristles on the low-profile head to add toothpaste or gel to cleanse odor-causing bacteria on the tongue.

These tongue scrapers make oral hygiene more fun and come in the perfect size for children to use comfortably.

Price at time of publication: $10

Product Details:

  • Material: Plastic
  • Quantity: 2
  • Storage Case: No

Best Multipack

DenTek Orabrush Tongue Cleaner

DenTek Orabrush Tongue Cleaner

Amazon

Why We Like It: Ultra-soft bristles reach into the tongue's grooves to remove bad breath-causing bacteria more gently than your toothbrush.

It’s Worth Noting: As you clean the farthest part of your tongue, you may experience some gagging from the wide design.

To clean your tongue with the equipment you already own, you could use your toothbrush as the Cleveland Clinic recommends, which notes that you should brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth. However, toothbrush bristles are designed for the teeth, which may be too abrasive for the tongue. The DenTek Orabrush Tongue Cleaner scrapes and brushes the tongue simultaneously to loosen and remove bacteria that threaten your oral health—all without causing any damage.

Dr. Gonchar recommends this tongue scraper for its effective combination of scraping and brushing. “​​Some people feel the bristles add an extra layer of cleanliness,” she says. “These bristles are ultra-soft and will not damage your tongue.”

This tongue scraper is best for wide mouths, however. Some user reviews report frequent gagging when using this tongue cleaner.

Price at time of publication: $20

Product Details:

  • Material: Plastic
  • Quantity: 4
  • Storage Case: No

Best with Bristles

GUM 760RB Dual Action Tongue Cleaner Brush & Scraper

GUM 760RB Dual Action Tongue Cleaner Brush & Scraper

Amazon

Why We Like It: It has a long handle for hard-to-reach places and a narrow head to prevent gagging.

It’s Worth Noting: The bristles can be rigid on the tongue, as noted by some verified purchasers.

This tongue cleaner brushes and scrapes. The bristles get rid of food particles, while the scraper removes bacteria and the white film that sometimes forms on the tongue's surface. It’s not as wide as some tongue cleaners, so it’s a good option for those with a sensitive gag reflex.

It’s made of plastic, which is what some people prefer. Dr. Tomalty recommends this one by GUM if you're in that camp. “Instead of brushing your tongue with a toothbrush, you can use this for both brushing and scraping the tongue,” he says of the dual function. One side scrapes and the other brushes, so they’re not performed in conjunction, making it different from the DenTek Orabrush Tongue Cleaner.

Scraping is typically more effective than brushing your tongue, according to Dr. Tomalty, but this one does both and can give some people a better sense of cleanliness. Still, you’ll want to use the bristle side with a gentle hand since it can be quite rigid. 

Price at time of publication: $14

Product Details:

  • Material: Plastic
  • Quantity: 6
  • Storage Case: No

Best for Easy Cleaning

Cafhelp Stainless Steel Tongue Scrapers

Cafhelp Stainless Steel Tongue Scrapers

Amazon

Why We Like It: Metal scrapers are typically less gentle than plastic ones, but this tongue cleaner has a gentle side for thin tongue coatings.

It’s Worth Noting: Some people may struggle to get a deep clean with the blunt edges.

If you’ve decided on a metal tongue scraper, our dentists recommend opting for stainless steel since it’s long-lasting and easy to clean. This scraper by Cafhelp uses surgical stainless steel, the most corrosion-resistant form of stainless steel. Over time, stainless steel scrapers may rust, but it’s less likely with surgical stainless steel. Your tongue scraper will come into contact with water daily, so choosing one that won’t rust is a must.

This tongue scraper is also easy to clean since it’s made of quality metal. To clean this tongue scraper, the manufacturer recommends soaking it in lemon water or using denture tablets. You can also boil your metal tongue scraper in three parts vinegar and one part salt.

Aside from being easy to clean, it’s also effective for removing thin layers of film on the tongue. It’s double-sided, with one side designed for a more gentle clean. For some, it may be too gentle to get that deep-clean feel with this tool. If you’ve found other tongue scrapers too hard, this one may work for you.

Price at time of publication: $10

Product Details:

  • Material: 100% surgical stainless steel
  • Quantity: 2
  • Storage Case: Yes

Best Stainless Steel

DrTung’s Stainless Tongue Scraper

DrTung’s Stainless Tongue Scraper

Amazon

Why We Like It: It combines the durable and hygienic properties of stainless steel in the metal scraper with the grip and flexibility of plastic in the rubber handles.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s slightly pricier than other options made from similar materials and may be too.

The dentists we spoke to generally recommend stainless steel tongue scrapers as their top choices since they’re durable, resistant to bacterial overgrowth when cleaned regularly, and effective. This one by DrTung is a best seller—you may have seen it at your local health food stores.

The scraper is made of stainless steel, which is durable and hygienic, while the comfort grip handles are made from rubber. Most metal scrapers have metal handles, so this model ensures a more comfortable and even adjustable grip.

It features a U shape that Dr. Tomalty is a fan of. The ergonomic edge is curved for effective cleaning, though some may find it too rigid for sensitive tongues. This may be best reserved for more serious cases of bad breath or bacteria where sensitivity isn’t an issue. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a coated tongue from a significant overgrowth of bacteria resulting from smoking or dry mouth could benefit from tongue scraping.

Price at time of publication: $10

Product Details:

  • Material: Stainless steel scraper with rubber handles
  • Quantity: 2
  • Storage Case: Yes

Best Copper

MasterMedi Natural Copper Tongue Scraper for Adults with Travel Case

MasterMedi Natural Copper Tongue Scraper for Adults with Travel Case

Amazon

Why We Like It: Some people prefer copper because it’s an antimicrobial metal and it’s naturally occurring.

It’s Worth Noting: Copper tongue scrapers may rust, tarnish, or discolor over time.

Our top pick, the stainless steel MasterMedi Tongue Scraper, also comes in a copper variety. It features a similar design but offers the additional benefits of copper for just a couple of bucks more.

“Some people prefer copper to stainless steel, which is fine as copper does have additional benefits,” Dr. Tomalty says of the copper version of his top pick. “Copper is toxic to bacteria and can encourage the production of healthy enzymes, which are beneficial for the ‘good’ bacteria we all need.” Like Dr. Tomalty says, one of the major perks of copper is that bacteria are rapidly killed on its surface. According to research in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, this mechanism is called “contact killing,” making copper an antimicrobial metal. This is great news for people with an overgrowth of bacteria in their mouths.

Like the stainless steel version, this copper tongue scraper features a U-shape design that’s sturdy enough to remove bacteria effectively but flexible enough to move around. The manufacturer claims it’s resistant to rust, but it may become discolored after some time.

Price at time of publication: $13

Product Details:

  • Material: Copper
  • Quantity: 2
  • Storage Case: Yes

Best Attachment

Waterpik Replacement Tongue Cleaners

Waterpik Replacement Tongue Cleaners

Amazon

Why We Like It: It attaches to your Waterpik water flosser to clean and blast your tongue with water at the same time.

It’s Worth Noting: It may not be as effective as a standalone tongue scraper.

If you use a Waterpik water flosser, this attachment will make a nice addition to your oral hygiene routine. It attaches to your water flosser to clean the tongue while spraying it with water to loosen compounds and particles. This attachment combines the scraping action of a regular tongue scraper with the flushing action of a water flosser.

Since the tongue can be more sensitive than the teeth, set your Waterpik to the lowest setting. You don’t need high pressure to use this attachment to scrape your tongue, though you can turn up the water pressure slightly. Turn on the unit once the attachment is in your mouth, and use it like a regular tongue scraper. While combining tongue scraping with water pressure sounds effective, it may not be any more effective than using a regular tongue scraper. Since this attachment needs to be replaced every 6 months, it’s not the most cost-effective method either.

Price at time of publication: $23

Product Details:

  • Material: Plastic
  • Quantity: 2
  • Storage Case: No

How We Selected

To find the best tongue scrapers, we started our search by speaking with doctors and orthodontists. We asked them to recommend their favorite tongue scrapers based on their clinical experience. Both doctors independently recommended our top pick for its quality materials and effectiveness.

We researched a variety of tongue scrapers using criteria provided by experts. They recommended simple metal tongue cleaners as their top choices but said plastic and copper varieties can work for some people, too.

What to Know About Tongue Scrapers

How to Use a Tongue Scraper 

Using a tongue scraper is simple, but it can take some getting used to. Follow these steps to use a basic U-shape tongue scraper:

  1. Open your mouth and extend your tongue towards your chin to expose as much surface area as possible. It helps if you do this in front of a mirror.
  2. Hold the tongue scraper by the handles and place the narrowest, rounded part near the back of your tongue. If you’re prone to gagging, you can start in the middle.
  3. Gently pull the tongue scraper forward toward the tip of your tongue to remove food particles and bacteria. Always pull the scraper to the front of your mouth, never pushing debris to the back.
  4. Remove debris from the scraper after each swipe. Keep a tissue or washcloth nearby, or run it under water.
  5. Repeat several times, making sure to scrape all areas of the tongue. 
  6. Wash, dry, and store your tongue scraper.

Features to Look for When Shopping for a Tongue Scraper

Though the end goal is the same, there are different varieties of tongue scrapers. They’re usually categorized based on their materials, such as metal or plastic, but they can differ in design also. They may work by scraping or brushing with bristles.

Metal tongue scrapers made from stainless steel or copper are typically the easiest to clean and last the longest. “They are angular, which makes them effective at scraping,” Dr. Tomalty says, noting they can be more “intense” than plastic variations. For ease of cleanability and overall effectiveness, Dr. Gonchar and Dr. Tomalty prefer metal tongue scrapers for adults. 

Plastic tongue scrapers are softer, making them ideal for sensitive tongues. For children, plastic may be better. “Plastic tongue scrapers tend to be a little more forgiving for younger patients who might be learning to use the scraper,” Dr. Tomalty says.

When deciding between tongue cleaners that scrape or brush, scraping is usually the most effective. Brushing can give people a greater sense of cleanliness, but they also tend to be more abrasive on tongues.

In online shopping, Dr. Tomalty also says to do your homework on the retailer and manufacturer to avoid purchasing knock-offs that contain potentially unsafe materials. “Since a tongue scraper is going to be in your mouth each day, always ensure it's made of materials that are safe for your use,” he says.

How Often You Should Use a Tongue Scraper

Some sources say you should scrape your tongue as often as you brush your teeth—so twice per day—but Dr. Tomalty says this isn’t required.

“Using a tongue scraper once daily is adequate,” explains Dr. Gonchar. “I recommend incorporating this into your morning routine to remove any bacteria that may have accumulated overnight that can cause bad breath.” 

If your tongue feels sore or sensitive after scraping, you can reduce your frequency to once every other day, according to Dr. Tomalty.

How Much You Can Expect to Pay for a Tongue Scraper

Tongue scrapers are a good investment, but they won’t cost you much. Our picks ranged in price from $7 to $22 with an average price of $13, though most included 2 scrapers in a pack. On average, you can expect to pay less than $6 for a single tongue scraper. For the most cost-effective option, opt for a reusable metal scraper that will last for years—plastic options and attachments need to be replaced 2-4 times per year.

Your Questions, Answered

Is it good to scrape your tongue? 

Scraping your tongue is beneficial for oral health. It removes odor-causing bacteria, which is often the cause of bad breath. It can also eliminate cavity-causing bacteria, reducing the chance of tooth decay in both children and adults. “Most patients use it to reduce bacteria, which could be contributing to other oral health issues and bad breath,” Dr. Tomalty says. “By removing that layer of debris and build-up, some patients also notice improved taste.”

Is it better to scrape or brush your tongue? 

Brushing your tongue is better than not cleaning it at all, but scraping it is most effective. “Tongue cleaners are quite effective—they’re better at reducing and removing debris and bacteria than brushing your tongue, using mouthwash, or both,” Dr. Tomalty says.

If all you have is your toothbrush, this could get your tongue clean but can also be too harsh. “A toothbrush can be used to brush your tongue, but the bristles, even on a soft toothbrush, are often too abrasive and can damage the small papilla of your tongue,” Dr. Gonchar explains. So, it’s best to reserve your toothbrush for cleaning your teeth and getting your tongue a dedicated cleaner made for that purpose.

Do tongue scrapers get rid of white tongues? 

If you have a white tongue, it could be caused by debris, bacteria, and dead cells or inflammation, per the Cleveland Clinic. A tongue cleaner should help reduce the amount of bacteria in tongue coatings, according to a trial in BMC Oral Health.

“A white tongue can come from poor oral hygiene, and tongue scraping can help and quickly at that,” Dr. Tomalty says, noting that a white tongue can be a symptom of bacteria buildup. However, it can also be caused by smoking, certain medications, and dry mouth from mouth breathing, so a tongue scraper may not always get rid of white tongues.

If it doesn’t improve with the help of improved oral hygiene, it could be an indication of an underlying dental or medical condition that a doctor should address, says Dr. Gonchar.

Do tongue scrapers damage taste buds? 

It’s unlikely that a tongue scraper would damage your taste buds, but it is possible if used incorrectly.

“Damaging your taste buds with a tongue scraper would require a lot of pressure during the application,” Dr. Gonchar. “You would likely notice discomfort or pain.”

If you press down too hard while cleaning your tongue, Dr. Tomalty says it’s likely just irritation from a surface injury but not from invasive or long-term harm. He advises a gentle hand, though even if you apply too much pressure, it’s not enough to “ruin” your taste buds, he says.

Who We Are

Lacey Muinos is a health and wellness writer who takes her oral hygiene seriously. She’s only had two cavities in her entire life, which was enough for her to say “never again.” She’s been using the stainless steel MasterMedi Tongue Scraper—our top pick—for years and has personally experienced the oral health benefits of using a tongue scraper.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. American Dental Association. Toothbrushes.

  5. CDC. Children's oral health.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Does tongue scraping actually work, and should I be doing it?

  7. Cleveland Clinic. White tongue.

  8. Mathews S, Hans M, Mücklich F, Solioz M. Contact killing of bacteria on copper is suppressed if bacterial-metal contact is prevented and is induced on iron by copper ionsAppl Environ Microbiol. 2013;79(8):2605-2611. doi:10.1128/AEM.03608-12

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