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How to Clean Your Tongue to Avoid Bad Breath

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day is excellent for optimal oral health. But what about your tongue? Cleaning your tongue thoroughly as part of your regular dental routine can leave you feeling even more refreshed. Learn how cleaning your tongue can improve your breath and discover simple tongue cleaning techniques.

Why Should You Clean Your Tongue?

Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria. While daily brushing and flossing is a great way to clean your teeth and improve your mouth's overall health, it doesn't remove the bacteria that collects on your tongue. This bacteria can produce volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs), leading to bad breath, also associated with certain health issues.

How to Clean Your Tongue

The easiest way to clean your tongue is with a soft-bristled toothbrush or a tongue scraper. A tongue scraper is soft, with flexible plastic that gently peels away the thin layer of debris and mucus-like coating from your tongue.

How to Clean Your Tongue with a Tongue Scraper

A tongue scraper can be used to clean your tongue either before or after you brush your teeth. Your tongue is sensitive, so it's essential to be gentle and not press the cleaner too forcefully.

Follow these tips for cleaning your tongue easily and quickly:

  • Place the scraper at the back of the tongue and pull the tool forward to the front of your tongue.
  • Move the scraper across your tongue multiple times at different angles.
  • Remove the excess food or debris from your tongue by rinsing your mouth with water.
  • Remove or rinse the tongue scraper each time you use it to keep it sanitary and clean.

How to Brush your Tongue

  • Put a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush.
  • Start at the back of your tongue and brush your way forward.
  • Use gentle but firm pressure in back-and-forth motions, just like brushing your teeth.

After cleaning your tongue, whether with a toothbrush or scraper, use a mouth rinse. Then, rinse the scraper or toothbrush with water. How do you check your tongue cleaning technique? You'll know when you're done cleaning your tongue because all that discolored debris disappears, leaving your tongue clean, pink, and refreshed.

How Often Should I Clean My Tongue?

Bacteria grow fast. The best way to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth is to clean your tongue twice daily after brushing your teeth. Removing that debris from your tongue before bedtime can also help reduce bad morning breath and get rid of it when you wake up.

Making a habit of cleaning your entire mouth, including your tongue, will keep your breath fresh and keep your mouth healthy. It helps avoid bad breath and makes for a great oral health experience.