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Are tongue cleaners just a passing fad?

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We spend many hours each month cleaning our teeth, but should we be focusing on our tongue at the same time? Read on to find out more.

Every so often, a new product comes along and opens up a new market that had previously gone un-noticed. An example of this is the tongue scraper, which is only a relatively recent newcomer to the Irish dental scene.


This topic came to mind recently when we were fitting teeth implants to one of our patients. As part of the small talk before the process commenced, we were mentioning that the tooth implant cost was really an investment for life, and that he was really investing in his own health and wellbeing.


He was highly enthused, to say the least, and asked for all sorts of advice on keeping his new implants in tip-top condition. He’s recently been to the U.S. and noticed that tongue scrapers were very popular over there, so was obviously curious as to whether this was a fad or a genuinely good thing to use as part of a daily oral health regime.


The first thing we said to him was that we believe tongue scrapers (or tongue cleaners) are a very effective weapon in the battle against bad breath. Why so? Well, there is a massive amount of bacteria in your mouth, and the vast majority of this sits happily on your tongue, which provides a nice, moist, comfortable setting for these crafty bacteria.


In response to this, the toothbrush manufacturers initially added a second brush to the back of the normal brushing head. This certainly helped raise awareness of the issue of brushing your tongue, but it was only a partial answer.


The newer form of tongue scraper is much more efficient, in our opinion. You’ll find these in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but by and large, they all do the same job.


You use them to gently scrape across the surface of your tongue – but don’t be tempted to apply too much pressure as your tongue can bleed quite easily. You should start very gently, as apply a little more pressure over few days until you feel you’re getting a good scrape – without endangering your tongue.


When you start using the scraper, you’ll very definitely be amazed at the level of material that comes off your tongue – all of it with the potential to cause bad breath.


As a general rule, it’s fine to use the tongue scraper just once a day. If you do it in the morning, your tongue – and your breath – will hopefully be nice and fresh for the rest of the day.

When using the scraper, try to stick out your tongue as far as possible to get rid of bacteria hiding at the back of your tongue. As to how you know you’re finished, well you can stop when no new ‘gunk’ is coming off your tongue.


You should make sure to continuously wash the scraper under running water, as otherwise you’ll only be moving the bacteria from one place to another.



And finally, remember that your tongue is the site of lots of taste buds that are easily hurt of you are over-aggressive. If you experience pain or bleeding, lay off for a few days until your tongue has calmed down, then start off again – but more gently this time.

We subsequently met our patient with the teeth implants a few months later, and he was really proud of his new tongue regime. The tooth implant cost was long forgotten and he had become a walking ambassador for the merits of a healthy, bacteria-free tongue.


And yes, in case you're wondering, his breath DID smell extra-fresh!