How to Scrape Your Tongue: Brushes, Scrapers & Spoons (2023)

Table of Contents

  1. How to Scrape Your Tongue
  2. Do Tongue Cleaners Work
  3. Tongue Brushes
  4. Tongue Scrapers
  5. Cutlery Drawer Spoons
  6. Benefits
  7. Bad Breath and Your Health
  8. References

To scrape your tongue with a dedicated device, a brush like a toothbrush, or even a simple utensil like a spoon, you simply pull the instrument down from the back of the tongue to the front.

This has become a popular way to “eliminate” bad breath. However, there is little evidence that cleaning your tongue like this works to get rid of bad breath.

Tongue scraping might help a bit to lessen some bad breath if it’s used as part of a standard oral hygiene routine. But it won’t be sufficient on its own to address bad breath.

How to Scrape Your Tongue

No matter what tool you are using — your toothbrush, an inverted spoon, or a designated tongue scraper — there is a specific way to scrape your tongue properly.

Be sure to use a proper tool when you are scraping your tongue. Then, follow these steps:

  1. While standing in front of a mirror, open your mouth and stick out your tongue.
  2. Place the rounded edge of the tongue scraper, the tip of your toothbrush, or a spoon at the back of your tongue.
  3. Initially, you may need to start more toward the middle of your tongue to avoid triggering your gag reflex. As you become more accustomed to tongue scraping, you can gradually move the scraper further back.
  4. With gentle pressure, pull the tongue scraper from the back of your tongue slowly and carefully to the tip of your tongue. Always use a pulling motion from the back to the front. Do not use a pushing motion going the opposite direction, from the front to the back.
  5. After scraping, remove debris from the scraper with a washcloth or tissue.
  6. Scrape your tongue in sections, repeating these steps until the entire tongue has been scraped. Remember to wipe the scraper after every scrape. You can scrape each section of tongue one to two times.
  7. Wash the tongue scraper with warm water and soap. If using a spoon, put it in the dishwasher. Store it in a clean and dry area.

Scraping your tongue generally takes no longer than two minutes. You can repeat this process throughout the day as needed.

Tongue scraping can easily be added to your mouth and teeth cleaning routine. For example, scrape your tongue before brushing your teeth.

Clean Tongues: Do Devices to Clean Your Tongue Help?

Tongue scrapers are tools used to scrape “gunk” off your tongue. This may include food, plaque, patches of bacteria that can cause bad breath, or other unsavory messes.

The concept of tongue scraping has been part of several human cultures for thousands of years. Like many other oral health trends, it is seeing a revival in the Western world.

Although tongue scraping is not a replacement for a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice per day, adding tongue scraping to this routine may help you reduce problems you have with bad breath. The process of cleaning your tongue may remove particles that cause bad breath, called volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs).

If you struggle with consistent or chronic halitosis, you should visit a dentist to see if you have any underlying conditions like gingivitis that may be contributing to the problem.

The term tongue scraper covers many different devices that include dedicated scrapers, specific brushes, toothbrushes, or even unrelated devices like spoons.

(Video) tongue scraping with a spoon

Tongue Brushes

One of the simplest ways to begin cleaning your tongue or “scraping” it is to simply use your toothbrush. Once you have finished brushing your teeth for two minutes, you can use your toothbrush to clean your gums and your tongue too. Then, continue with your oral care routine, which should include flossing or using interdental brushes and rinsing with a mouthwash.

Some people buy brushes that are specifically made for their tongues or keep a separate toothbrush to use on their tongue. As long as you keep your toothbrush clean and in good shape, replacing it every three to four months or when the bristles fray, you can use your regular toothbrush on your tongue as well.

Studies show, using a tongue scraper twice a day for seven days reduces two forms of bacteria in the mouth.

Tongue Scrapers

Tongue scrapers are devices that are specifically designed to remove the coating on your tongue, which may contain some bacteria or VSCs that contribute to bad breath. Medical studies show inconclusive evidence of their effectiveness, however.

(Video) Making Tongue Scraper From Spoon

For example, one of the earlier tongue scraping reviews, published in 2006, reported that there was “weak and unreliable evidence” to support tongue scraping over other types of tongue cleaning, including with your existing toothbrush. A later review, in 2019, from the same publication, found that two different studies showed tongue scraping could create a small improvement in bad breath by removing tongue coating, which may include some VSCs.

A tongue scraper may be made out of plastic, a nonreactive metal like stainless steel, or a combination of the two.

Like your toothbrush, it is important to keep your tongue scraper clean by rinsing it after you use it. Store it in an upright position in open air so it can quickly dry.

Spoons From Your Cutlery Drawer

If you don’t want to use your toothbrush but don’t want to invest in a tongue scraper, or you are simply curious whether tongue scraping or cleaning is for you before you invest in the process, you can use a spoon out of your cutlery drawer. It is important to use a wider spoon, like a soup spoon, rather than a teaspoon. Choose a spoon that does not have sharp edges, which might harm the surface of your tongue.

Spoons might be a great option because you can clean them in your kitchen sink or dishwasher rather than storing them with your toothbrush. You may feel that this is a more hygienic solution than a scarper or a brush.

Still, the effects of tongue scraping with a spoon are like those of using a scraper or a brush. It might help to improve halitosis by removing some particles, but it is more important to maintain a strong oral hygiene routine.

The Benefits of Tongue Scraping

How to Scrape Your Tongue: Brushes, Scrapers & Spoons (1)

Adding a tongue scraper or cleaner to your oral care routine offers several benefits.

Fresher Breath

Scraping your tongue can remove food particles that are stuck to it, even after you brushed and flossed your teeth. This can reduce bad breath much more effectively than eating mints or chewing gum.

Paradoxically, mints and gum may actually increase bad breath. As food particles are freed, they might release volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) as they break down in your mouth, leading to bad breath.

Cleaner Mouth

Your saliva naturally helps to cleanse your mouth and teeth, but sometimes, particles and bacteria from your saliva can collect on your tongue, which can increase bad breath, stains on teeth, and oral health risks. Stubborn food particles are a boon for harmful bacteria. When these microbes grow, they not only cause bad breath, but they also increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

Improve Sense of Taste

By removing residual food particles, you unclog your taste buds, giving them more surface area and reducing the presence of other flavors. This is not only pleasurable in the short term but also better for your long-term health. Enjoying the food you eat helps to regulate your emotions and your sense of satiation.

Improved Appearance of Your Tongue

Not many people think about what their tongue looks like until it is coated with an unattractive whitish film. Tongue scrapers help remove this, prevent the coating from returning, and ensure the tongue is a healthy color.

(Video) Drs. Rx: Should You Be Tongue Scraping Every Night?

(Video) HOW TO: Get Rid of White Tongue & Bad Breath INSTANTLY!

If you want to boost the benefits of your oral health routine, add tongue scraping to brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. This practice can reduce how often you experience bad breath, increase your oral health, and even improve your experience of the world around you.

Bad Breath Can Mean Underlying Health Problems

The American Dental Association states that there is currently no evidence that proves that keeping your tongue clean can reduce bad breath or improve oral hygiene.

Tongue scraping may provide a short-term solution, but if you have ongoing concerns about halitosis, you may have an underlying problem like gingivitis that requires treatment from a dentist or dental hygienist.

You may simply prefer the way your tongue feels after cleaning it with a brush, scraper, or spoon, and this is a perfectly valid reason to continue. Cleaning your tongue might slightly improve your oral hygiene, and it certainly will not harm your oral health.


Tongue Scrapers and Cleaners. Mouth Healthy, from the American Dental Association (ADA). Date fetched: May 28, 2021.

What to Know About Tongue Scraping. (January 2020). Medical News Today. Date fetched: May 28, 2021.

Tongue Scraping for Treating Halitosis. (April 2006). Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews.

Interventions for Managing Halitosis. (December 2019). Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews.

Bad Breath. (June 2014). Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences.

(Video) Tongue Scraper: i use a spoon to scrape my tongue.

Tongue Scrapers and Cleaners. Mouth Healthy, from the American Dental Association (ADA).

Impact of Tongue Cleansers on Microbial Load and Taste. (July 2004). Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.


How to Scrape Your Tongue: Brushes, Scrapers & Spoons? ›

Always go from the back of the tongue to the tip. After each scrape, use a washcloth or tissue to remove debris from the scraper. Repeat until you've scraped the entire surface of your tongue. One to two scrapes across the same area is usually enough.

How do you scrape your tongue perfectly? ›

How to Scrape (Clean) Your Tongue
  1. Stick out your tongue.
  2. Start the scraper at the very back of the tongue.
  3. Run the scraper all the way to the front 2 or 3 times.
  4. Use light pressure (If it hurts or cuts your tongue, it's too much.)
  5. Rinse the scraper under warm water between scrapes.
  6. Swish your mouth out with water afterward.
Apr 28, 2021

How many times should you scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper? ›

You should scrape your tongue once a day, and most experts recommend that you do it after brushing either in the morning or evening.

How do you deep clean your tongue? ›

Position your toothbrush at the back of the tongue. Brush lightly forward and backward along your tongue. Spit out saliva that appears during the brushing and rinse out the toothbrush with warm water. Clean your tongue as often as you brush your teeth.

Do tongue scrapers damage taste buds? ›

Tongue scraping won't damage your taste buds. In fact, it might actually help them to work even better than before (because germs won't be covering them.)

How long does it take for a tongue scraper to work? ›

Studies show that by using a tongue scraper for seven days, you can significantly reduce the number of bacteria on your tongue by simply adding this practice to your oral hygiene routine.

What is the stuff I scrape off my tongue in the morning? ›

The practice involves scraping your tongue gently with a tool to clear toxins, bacteria and dead cells that build up overnight whilst you sleep, and also prevents them from being reabsorbed in the body. It's a simple daily cleansing practice, exactly like brushing your teeth.

How do I get rid of the white stuff on my tongue? ›

What can I do at home to treat white tongue?
  1. Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily.
  2. Brushing your teeth using a soft toothbrush.
  3. Brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper to remove the white coating.
  4. Using mild fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash.
Apr 19, 2023

Is it better to brush or scrape your tongue? ›

Researchers found that tongue scrapers removed 30 percent more volatile sulfur compounds on the tongue than a soft-bristled toothbrush. Although cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush is better than not cleaning it at all, using a tongue scraper is more effective.

What is the white stuff on my tongue? ›

A white tongue is usually caused by a white coating over the tongue. The coating can be due to a buildup of dead cells on the surface of the tongue, food residue, or an overgrowth of bacteria. It can also be from dried and caked saliva, damaged tongue tissues, or a combination of all of these things.

What is the disadvantage of tongue scraper? ›

Tongue cleaning can cause discomfort. Improper use of a tongue cleaner may induce the gag reflex and/or vomiting. Overuse of a tongue cleaner may also cause damage to the taste buds. Some people have inappropriately used the tongue cleaner to scrape or brush the lingual tonsils (tongue tonsils).

Should you brush the very back of your tongue? ›

As with a tongue scraper, you should only brush as far back as the end of your tongue groove. Do not brush your tonsils on either side of your tongue.

What does hydrogen peroxide do to your tongue? ›

Tongue brushing with 3% hydrogen peroxide is a useful method to reduce the number of bacteria on the tongue in patients with gastrointestinal cancer undergoing surgery.

Why is my tongue still white after I brush it? ›

White tongue is the result of an overgrowth and swelling of the fingerlike projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue. The appearance of a white coating is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged between the enlarged and sometimes inflamed papillae.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide to clean my tongue? ›

Conclusions: Tongue brushing with 3% hydrogen peroxide is a useful method to reduce the number of bacteria on the tongue in patients with gastrointestinal cancer undergoing surgery.

How do you know if your tongue is clean? ›

After cleaning your tongue with either a scraper or toothbrush, check your tongue in a mirror. If it is pink and fresh looking, that means you cleaned it properly. However, if you notice a white or yellowish discoloration, clean it a few more times!

What does a clean tongue look like? ›

A healthy tongue is typically pink in color and covered with papillae (tiny bumps) which contain your taste buds and assist with chewing food. Indications of an unhealthy tongue include different coloration besides pink, spots or patches (such as white, brown, or black spots), open sores, etc.

Why you shouldn't scrape your tongue? ›

Damaging papillae

The papillae that cover your tongue are key to a healthy and well-functioning sense of taste. While one of the objectives of tongue scraping is to keep papillae clear of any debris, pressing too hard can damage these delicate taste buds.

Does tongue scraping detox? ›

The process of tongue scraping helps to stimulate the internal organs through lightly massaging them which helps to improve digestion, increases your sense of taste and cleanses toxins and bacteria from the mouth.

Is a plastic or metal tongue scraper better? ›

Conclusion: Metal tongue scrapers win

Ultimately, metal tongue scrapers are the better choice for your oral care, health and the planet. If you're on the market for one, consider choosing our stainless steel tongue cleaner. It got thick durable handles, a U-shape and comes to you completely plastic-free!

Why is my tongue still white after scraping? ›

The white coating is caused by debris, dead cells or bacteria which get stuck on the bumps of your tongue and results in the white coloring. Your tongue is the perfect home for anaerobes. These bacteria live in areas with very little to no oxygen, including the bowel.

What is the stuff I scrape off my tongue? ›

Tongue scraping can help remove debris, bacteria, and dead cells and may have other benefits, including improving your sense of taste. Tongue scraping is a fast way to remove extra particles — including the ones that cause bad breath — from the surface of your tongue.

What is the white stringy stuff in my mouth after I brush my teeth? ›

This sticky, disgusting layer of film is called oral thrush, and it's normal to want to rid your mouth of the foul substance as quickly as possible! Read on to learn more from your dentist about what causes oral thrush, along with some measures you can take to address it and maintain good oral health.

What is a white tongue that Cannot be scraped off? ›

Leukoplakia may appear as thick, white patches that cannot be scraped off. Sometimes, the patches may appear red and white. The patches that leukoplakia cause are harmless by themselves. In rare cases, leukoplakia can progress to cancer, so it is best to have a doctor diagnose this right away.

What mouthwash is best for white tongue? ›

Listerine Total Care mouthwash

It is a daily mouthwash with clinically proven effectiveness. It is used in addition to brushing, it eliminates up to 99% of the bacteria of the dental plaque at the origin of the white tongue and acts in the places which the brush cannot reach.

Why can't I get rid of the white stuff on my tongue? ›

White tongue is usually harmless and only temporary. It's most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene or candida overgrowth, but it can also be an indication of an infection or some serious conditions. White tongue is a sign that something isn't right with the body.

How long should you tongue scrape? ›

Scraping your tongue generally takes no longer than two minutes. You can repeat this process throughout the day as needed. Tongue scraping can easily be added to your mouth and teeth cleaning routine. For example, scrape your tongue before brushing your teeth.

What happens if you don't scrape your tongue? ›

Bacteria on the tongue is extremely sticky. Food and drink particles can get stuck on the bacteria. If it isn't removed your tongue may start to develop a discolored appearance and look hairy. A condition known as oral thrush, or a yeast infection, can develop when the bacteria in the mouth are left to multiple.

What foods cure white tongue? ›

Eating foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt or kefir, can help to promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth. Probiotics can help to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and prevent the buildup of white film on your tongue.

Does white tongue mean infection? ›

Although the appearance of white tongue may be alarming, the condition is usually harmless and temporary. However, white tongue can be an indication of some serious conditions, ranging from infection to a precancerous condition.

Can lemon get rid of white tongue? ›

Lemon juice – Mix the juice of half a lemon into eight ounces of water and either drink or rinse with the mixture. Apple cider vinegar – The antifungal properties of this vinegar can help treat oral thrush. Add one teaspoon of it to a cup of water and swish for one minute then spit.


1. Tongue Scraping: Why and How?
(Fauquier ENT)
2. How To Use A Tongue Scraper
(Mark Burhenne, DDS)
3. Your Tongue Is Probably Filthy, Here's How To Effectively Clean It
4. Dentist Explains How to Avoid Bad Breath, Tongue Scraping, and More | Ask an Expert | Health
5. How To Brush Your Tongue
(Electric Teeth)
6. How To Clean A Copper Tongue Scraper
(Keeko Oral Care)


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