How to Clean Your Tongue Effectively

Why You Should Be Brushing Your tongue

You need to brush and floss every day, right? That’s what we’ve all been taught. But our parents, teachers, and even dentists often forget to mention the third component of oral hygiene: the tongue. Follow this useful guide on how to clean your tongue and learn why you should do it every day.


Why You Should Clean Your Tongue

Proper oral hygiene is crucial for your overall health. And your tongue plays a very important role in that. Cleaning it regularly can prevent serious diseases. Not to mention how good it feels. Here are the top 5 benefits of cleaning your tongue to motivate you.

1. Less Bacteria on Your Tongue

Our teeth and gums are targets for bacteria, and our tongues are no exception. Due to the tongue's unique structure, bacteria can accumulate and thrive between your taste buds. To remove it, you need to know how to clean your tongue properly.

Rinsing alone won't help. These microorganisms are too small and stick together between the tongue's crevices in the biofilm. When harmful bacteria aren't removed, the situation can lead to tooth damage and foul odors. (And these are problems nobody wants to deal with…)

2. Avoid Bad Breath by Cleaning Your Tongue

Sulfuring compounds on your tongue are one of the biggest contributors to bad breath. Luckily, cleaning your tongue can get rid of it effectively. The difference in your fresher breath will be noticeable.

What tool you use to clean your tongue matters when it comes to bad breath. A tongue scraper gets rid of 75% of sulfuric compounds. Meanwhile, a toothbrush only takes off 45% of them.

3. Reduce Plaque With Tongue Scraping

Plaque is the bacteria that builds up on your teeth. Untreated plaque leads to tartar, cavities, and gum disease. By scraping the bacteria off your tongue, you also prevent plaque buildup

4. Your Mouth Will Feel Fresher

A great but often forgotten benefit of cleaning your tongue is the new feeling of your mouth. Brushing your teeth makes it feel fresher, so why shouldn’t you scrape your tongue? Enjoying that new sensation is definitely worth cleaning your tongue.

5. You May Taste Differently

When you scrape your tongue, you also free up your covered taste buds. One study found that cleaning your tongue can make you taste sucrose and citric acid differently. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Tongue?

You should clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth. Make it part of your dental care routine. That means at least once in the morning and once in the evening before bed. Twice every day.

Ideally, you should also clean your tongue at midday. Usually, if you have a bad taste in your mouth, or feel that your mouth is overly dry. 

Once you get into the habit of cleaning your tongue twice a day, you'll notice fresher breath and (hopefully) improved dental health at your next checkup.

How to Clean Your Tongue With a Tongue Scraper

The best tool you can use to clean your tongue is a tongue scraper. This specifically designed tool is the most effective way to scrape away the bacteria. Follow these simple steps to effectively clean your tongue with a scraper.

  1. Buy a tongue scraper. It’s usually made of metal or plastic. Some tongue scrapers have a handle with a triangle scraper bit. Others are a V-shaped bent design.
  2. Stick out your tongue as much as you can.
  3. Position the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue. Go as far as you can without triggering your gag reflex. 
  4. Next, push the scraper down on your tongue. Move it towards the front. 
  5. When you’ve pulled the scraper all the way, rinse it with water. Spit out excess saliva.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5. Clean your tongue as much as you need to get rid of harmful bacteria.
  7. Finally, clean the tongue scraper thoroughly after you’re done.


How to Clean Your Tongue With a Toothbrush

Even if you don’t have a tongue scraper, you should still clean your tongue. While your toothbrush isn’t as effective, it’s better than nothing. Here’s how to clean your tongue with a toothbrush to achieve the best results.

  1. A soft-bristle toothbrush is the best to clean your tongue.
  2. Stick out your tongue as much as you can.
  3. Position the toothbrush at the back of your tongue. Go as far as you can without triggering your gag reflex. 
  4. Brush gently forward and backward on your tongue.
  5. Spit out excess saliva and rinse your mouth with warm water.
  6. Finally, clean your toothbrush thoroughly after each use.

How to Clean Your Tongue With a Spoon

If all else fails, you can also clean your tongue with a spoon. A regular tablespoon can do the trick. Follow the same steps as you would with a tongue scraper. But, instead of the scraper, use the inside of the spoon to scrape the bacteria off your tongue. 

Can Mouthwash Clean Your Tongue?

Using mouthwash regularly can benefit your oral health. Mouthwash can clean your teeth and areas of your mouth you wouldn’t reach otherwise. Mouthwash can also give you a fresher breath. And some oral rinses even contain ingredients to fight bacteria. 

Still, it’s no substitute for a thorough tongue scraping. If you want all the health benefits of cleaning your tongue, using a tongue scraper is your best bet. 

When to See a Dentist

Making tongue scraping a regular part of your dental hygiene routine is beneficial in a lot of ways. Doing it regularly can prevent diseases and even tooth loss. But, if you notice any unusual changes to your tongue, you should definitely speak to a dentist.

If you develop white or pink patches on your tongue, or if it appears smooth and glossy, seek out a professional. Changes to your tongue can be a sign of a severe underlying health condition.

A lot of people avoid the dentist because of the cost. But, if you leave even minor oral health conditions untreated, they can quickly develop into severe illnesses. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between your oral health and your wallet if you have a Carefree Dental Card.

The Carefree Dental discount plan can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* off your bill per visit in most instances. 

Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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