Got Bad Breath? Try This $8 Dentist-Recommended Tool

One reviewer loved that it removed “residual gunk” from their tongue.
Tongue scrapers may help remove staining and bacteria from the tongue, making your mouth feel cleaner.
Amazon and Dr. Tung's
Tongue scrapers may help remove staining and bacteria from the tongue, making your mouth feel cleaner.

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If you’re not using a tongue scraper after you brush your teeth, you might be missing out on a tool that’ll help your tongue and mouth feel cleaner — especially if you drink a lot of coffee, smoke or consume a lot of spices.

“A tongue scraper is a device used to clean the papillae, the tiny raised bumps on the top of the tongue that contain taste buds,” Dr. Azadeh Akhavan, a New York City-based dentist whose practice emphasizes preventative and holistic care, told HuffPost over email.

Some people have longer papillae than others, according to Akhavan, and long papillae can not only pick up stains but also contribute to bad breath. “Heavy coffee drinkers or smokers with long papillae often exhibit a brown tinge on the surface of their tongue... Besides picking up stains, long papillae can also encourage bacteria that cause bad breath,” Akhavan explained.

Althouth Akhaven cautioned that a tongue scraper won’t remove sources of bad breath entirely, she explained that tongue scraping may lessen bad breath — also known as halitosis — by helping remove bacteria from the tongue. She recommended the Dr. Tung’s stainless tongue cleaner for folks interested in adding a scraper to their routine. “It is comfortable to grip, durable and reasonably priced,” she wrote. “In general, stainless steel feels better on the tongue than plastic.”

The Dr. Tung's tongue scraper is made of durable stainless steel.
Dr. Tung's
The Dr. Tung's tongue scraper is made of durable stainless steel.

“The main sources of bad breath are periodontal disease (bacteria under the gums which cause inflammation and bone loss), postnasal drip and digestive issues — issues that you should consult your dentist or doctor about,” Akhavan added. “However, tongue scraping may help to reduce bacteria, particularly for those with long papillae, and so it may mitigate some halitosis.”

In addition, she said, scrapers can remove some stains from the surface of the tongue.

The Dr. Tung’s scraper was designed by a dentist, and Amazon reviewers rave about its results, saying that it made their mouth feel cleaner, improved their breath and even made food taste better. One reviewer wrote that until using the scraper, they never knew what tap water tasted like — or a slew of other foods like milk, bananas, tofu and breath mints. “It was like my tastebuds were a newborn’s,” wrote another Amazon reviewer.

You can shop the Dr. Tung’s tongue scraper at Amazon or Walmart. And if you’re interested in other options, we’ve rounded up a few other tongue scrapers worth checking out, including a disposable version for traveling and a gentler plastic version that I use every day.

A stainless steel option with thousands of 5-star ratings on Amazon
Amazon reviewers are huge fans of this bestselling stainless steel scraper, which has over 76,000 5-star ratings. Its extra-wide head helps maximize your scraping, since it covers more of your tongue, and its gentle curve is designed to prevent gagging. It also promises to be rust-proof!

It's available in packs of one, two or three. Walmart also offers this scraper in a dual-headed style so your tongue gets twice the scrape with each swipe.
A double-sided plastic scraper that I use and love
While I'll probably transition to a stainless steel scraper eventually, I use this plastic tongue scraper every day and have been devoted to it for several years now. I love how gentle it is on my tongue while still being visibly effective — I can actually see all the gunk it's removed from my tongue, even using it after I've brushed my teeth. It’s double-sided, with a scraper on one side and a brush on the other that you can use to help dislodge film and buildup from your tongue before you scrape.

This is also surprisingly sturdy for such a lightweight item. Amazon reviewers seem to agree with me: “I used this tongue cleaner for longer than I would like to admit because it stood up so well over time,” wrote one. “Finally, I decided to replace it, mostly just because it was old, not because it didn't work anymore. I love the option of using a brush and a plastic scraper to clean my tongue… This set of tongue cleaners might last me the rest of my life.”
A handy pack of disposable scrapers you can take anywhere
If you want a quick and easy tongue scraper for keeping in your bag and using on the go, these single-use scrapers will do the trick. They’re designed to gently remove buildup from your tongue so you can quickly freshen up whether you’re in the car, in the office bathroom or on a trip. They’re made with lightweight recycled plastic and come in a pack of 32.

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