Tongue cleaner: what actions to adopt for good hygiene?

Young woman smiling girl with cleaner cleaning her tongue on blue. Daily dental care and oral hygiene. Studio shot.
21 Nov 2017

While your teeth get most of the attention when it comes to oral hygiene, using a tongue cleaner to keep your tongue free of bacteria can be just as important as brushing and flossing for your overall oral health.

While it’s true that your tongue isn’t going to get a cavity, there’s no denying that the same bacteria that so easily build up on your teeth can also accumulate on this area. This can cause bad breath and subsequently make it even easier for harmful bacteria to attack your teeth. Even more surprising, bacteria buildup on your tongue can also hurt your immune system and keep you from being able to taste all the flavours of your food.

So what can be done to keep your tongue clean? As it turns out, using a tongue cleaner doesn’t require a drastic shakeup of your brushing and flossing routine. This simple and effective addition will ensure you can enjoy good oral hygiene. Removing bacteria buildup from your mouth will keep your breath smelling great by discouraging future buildup of the sulphur compounds that cause bad breath.

Cleaning your tongue can be done with either a toothbrush or a tongue cleaner. If using a toothbrush, you should gently move the brush back and forth and side to side across your tongue. Be careful not to brush too hard, as this could hurt the skin on your tongue. Don’t forget to use a small bit of toothpaste! Once you’ve finished, rinse your mouth out with water or an antibacterial mouthwash to eliminate the rest of the bacteria.

While a toothbrush can remove a good percentage of the bacteria on your tongue, a tongue scraper can be even more effective. This is because the bristles on a toothbrush are designed to remove bacteria from the relatively smooth surface of your teeth, which means it isn’t always able to clean out the many crevices in your tongue. There are millions of bacteria on your tongue, and your toothbrush simply won’t be able to get them all! As a result, most dentists recommend that you use a tongue scraper for best results.

To properly use a tongue scraper, begin at the back and move towards the tip of your tongue. You may do this several times until your tongue has a nice pink color. Your goal is to eliminate the coating that can form on the tongue’s surface.

Once you’ve finished scraping your tongue, wash off the tongue scraper and rinse out your mouth with water or mouthwash. As with a toothbrush, only apply light pressure during use, as pressing too hard on your tongue scraper could scratch the skin and cause your tongue to bleed.

Just like with any other oral hygiene habit, learning to clean your tongue consistently and effectively may take a bit of time and practice. In general, it’s recommended that you clean your tongue every time that you brush and floss your teeth — at least once in the morning, and once at night. Individuals who experience bad breath, dry mouth, or unusual taste sensations during the day may also benefit from a midday cleaning.


Tongue cleaning may seem a bit strange at first, but, fully incorporating this practice into your oral health routine can keep your breath far fresher than any breath mint. To truly keep your mouth at its cleanest and healthiest, using a tongue scraper should quickly become a central part of your oral hygiene routine.