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.
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.
Oolitt Breath Wand Tongue Cleaner
Dr. Grayhills recommends Oolitt tongue scrapers. "[They] have a gentle serated edge which can be dragged across the tongue without inducing the same degree of gagging as a toothbrush often does," he says. "If you don't think your tongue scraper is doing anything, spit into the sink after [using] this device. You'll be amazed."
Dr. Tung's Tongue Cleaner
More than 1,800 five-star reviews can't be lying. This Amazon bestseller has a curved edge that feels comfortable on the tongue and can quickly slough off bacteria buildup. And it's made of stainless steel, which Dr. Jordan says is a good bet: "It will be easier to keep clean."
Tongue Sweeper Tongue Cleaner
Another highly-rated stainless steel model, this Tongue Sweeper device has a slim design that makes it easier to reach the very back of your mouth.