How Tongue Cleaning Gives You Fresher Breath

Brushing your teeth is the most important part of your oral care routine, but it doesn't cover all your bases. Like flossing, tongue cleaning is an often-forgotten part of a healthy mouth. But when done correctly, it offers a wonderful result.

Those who struggle with bad breath are perfect for the benefits a clean tongue can provide. A 2014 study published in The Journal of Periodontology found that halitosis sufferers who used a tongue scraper experienced a 75-percent reduction in volatile sulfur compounds – the bacteria responsible for bad breath. Those who relied on brushing, alone, only achieved a 45-percent reduction.

Learning how to properly clean your tongue may add a few extra seconds to your morning and evening routines, but it's well worth the effort. Consider these tips for the best results:

Use the Right Tools

In order to clean your tongue, you need a tool specifically designed to draw out the bacteria that leads to bad breath. You can purchase a standalone tongue scraper, but it's more convenient when these flexible plastic ridges are built into the back of your Colgate® 360°® Total® Advanced Floss-Tip Toothbrush – making it much easier to clean your tongue and the inside of your cheeks every night.

Check Your Technique

Using the right tongue-cleaning technique can make all the difference in getting the fresher, bacteria-free mouth you want. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends starting at the back of the tongue. Apply firm pressure as you drag the scraper toward the front of your tongue, collecting these germs as you pull outward and spitting the accumulated saliva into the sink as you would excess toothpaste. Try making a few different passes from different angles to ensure you've covered every region in which bacteria can hide. You can also scrape the insides of your cheeks, but be careful not to aggravate any mouth sores or irritations you may be dealing with at the time.

Make It a Habit

The best way to turn tongue scraping into an effective fix for bad breath – or an otherwise stale mouth – is to do it regularly, as part of your normal oral hygiene routine. A tongue scraper built into the back of your toothbrush doesn't just make it easy to flip your brush and scrape your tongue as you complete your usual brushing session; you also still have toothpaste in your mouth from brushing, which can add to the cleaning power of the tongue scraper. Finish with a swish of Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™ mouthwash and you'll have a fresher mouth every time you brush.

It doesn't seem like a big change, but keeping your tongue clean can have a terrific impact on your overall health as well. When you struggle with bad breath, or even dry mouth, bacteria isn't just breeding on and between the teeth and gums; it's also hiding in plain sight on your tongue. By adding tongue cleaning your usual time above the sink, you score fresher breath and a squeaky-clean tongue that makes it harder for bacteria to thrive.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Foul-smelling breath, usually caused by the breakdown of food. Other culprits include poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, disease, infection, tobacco use and severe dieting.


Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes that include:

  • Food particles from stinky foods like garlic and onions
  • Smoking
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Acid Reflux
  • Poor Oral Hygiene