Regular brushing and flossing are essential to keeping your mouth healthy, but you can get even more oral health benefits by targeting your cleaning efforts with one of the best tongue cleaners. “Our tongue is exposed to as much, if not more, bacteria than our teeth,” cosmetic dentist Dr. Marianna M. Weiner explains to Bustle. “All that bacteria that is living there gets absorbed into our bodies and digestive systems.” Tongue scraping, which is a practice that stems from early Ayurvedic literature can remove toxins that have been brought to the surface of the tongue, and according to Martha Soffer, an Ayurvedic expert and founder of Surya Spa, will "also help to remove bad breath, and even improve digestion.”
When you start shopping for a tongue scraper, you'll find a range of materials and shapes, and which one you go with will depend mostly on your comfort level:
- Copper: Copper scrapers have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries with good reason: “Copper is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and helps neutralize toxins,” Soffer says. One downside to consider, however, is that they’re only typically available in a V-shape, which might be harder to manage if you have a small mouth or a strong gag reflex.
- Stainless steel: Easy to clean and durable, you can find plenty of stainless steel options in both V and loop shapes, making it simple to pinpoint the right size for you. However, Dr. Weiner points out that tongue-scraping beginners should be aware that these steels kinds "are not going to be as gentle."
- Plastic: These are the gentlest of the bunch, making them a great starting point for tongue-cleaning newbies (or anyone with metal sensitivities), but the tradeoff is they may not be as effective. In addition to the loop styles, you can also find toothbrush-like plastic cleaners with soft bristles.
For best results, use your tongue cleaner first thing every morning, even before drinking water. Dr. Weiner suggests sticking your tongue out so that it feels loose and heavy, then, starting at the back of your tongue, gently work the scraper toward the tip and repeat the process four to five times (until you see all of the white coating come off), rinsing the scraper off after every pass.
Each brand may have its own replacement guidelines, but you can follow a similar schedule to that of a toothbrush: Replace your tongue cleaner at least every three to four months.
Step up your oral hygiene game with one of the best tongue cleaners below!
1. The Expert-Recommended Set
Both Soffer and Dr. Weiner shared their praise for Dr. Tung's Tongue Cleaner. "While durable and easy to clean thanks to the material it is made of, it is also gentle enough to do the job carefully and effectively," Dr. Weiner says. With your purchase, you'll get two of these stainless steel scrapers, which have soft, plastic grip handles that make it easy (and comfortable) to control them as you move them around. The experts aren't the only ones who are fans of this tool — more than 5,000 Amazon shoppers have given it a five-star rating.
One helpful review: "I bought this thinking it would help clear the white layer on my tongue. Not only did it make my tongue a nice pink and make my tongue moist again, but I can also taste distinct flavors I never noticed before. For instance, I used to love the brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts, but I thought the cinnamon part was false advertising... Today, a day after I started using the tongue cleaner, I noticed the cinnamon."
2. A Copper Scraper Set With Antibacterial Properties
Copper tongue cleaners, like the ones in this two-pack, are an essential part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine because of their natural antimicrobial properties. And though the handles don't have any grips around them, they are rounded, which helps you maintain control and makes it easier to adjust the width of the V-shape to better fit your tongue and mouth. And despite their copper construction, several users report that they don't leave behind a metallic taste.
One helpful review: "This is an extremely classy copper set of tongue scrappers. After only a few days of using it, I can already tell a difference in my tongue color and appearance. It has a more natural pink, healthy color whereas sometimes it would be a little whitish upon waking up. The handles are very thick and easy to hold while you are doing your scraping. I would highly recommend these scrapers!"
3. An Affordable Two-Pack Of Stainless Steel Scrapers
For an affordable alternative to the stainless steel option above, this MasterMedi tongue cleaner set may not have comfort grip handles, but it does come with the backing of many Amazon shoppers — more than 20,000 have given it an impressive 4.7-star rating. You'll also get two convenient storage cases that will help keep the scrapers clean between uses and make it easy for you to throw in a toiletry bag for travel. If you prefer a loop design, however, this stainless steel scraper is another great option that's especially easy to maneuver with just one hand.
One helpful review: "I love that MasterMedi Tongue Cleaner does a thorough cleaning but there is no gag reflect no matter how far back on tongue I go. The purpose is to get all the bacteria from the tongue and I can do this without gagging. A great deal in that it comes with 2 in the package and a great holder to keep them in away from germs in the air. Good product!!"
4. This Value Pack Of Plastic Mint-Flavored Loop Cleaners
Another option that gets Dr. Weiner's stamp of approval is this DenTek tongue cleaner because of how easy it is to use: The low profile and narrow loop design give you plenty of room to reach the back of your tongue comfortably without worrying about gagging. Plus, unlike any other pick on this list, these have three separate loops that make up the scraping edges, which, according to Dr. Weiner, help to "further encourage dead cell removal." She also adds that the touch of mint flavoring makes it a standout. "[The mint] is faint but it leaves an overall impression of freshness that lasts for days afterward."
One helpful review: "What I love most about this product, is the fact that it has 3 cleaning edges, so you don't have to make multiple passes over your tongue as you would have to with some other tongue cleaners that are presently on the market. I made one pass, rinsed the tongue cleaner off, then made a 2nd pass that I really didn't need, just for good measure."
5. These Plastic Scrapers That Resemble A Toothbrush
This plastic Orabrush tongue cleaner has soft micro-bristles that are designed to specifically fight bad breath. Despite its familiar toothbrush-like appearance (which, per the brand, was inspired by a surgeon's scrub brush), you're still meant to use it in a scraping motion versus a circular brushing one. The smaller-sized heads are also a plus for anyone with a smaller mouth or strong gag reflex.
One helpful review: "Most effective tongue scraper i have used. it is good that it has little bristles so you can scrub stubborn spots. also that it is more rubbery at the top as opposed to hard plastic because i definitely have cut my tongue while scrubbing overzealously with other tongue scrapers in the past."