Most bad breath is caused by bacteria that live in your mouth. And a lot of the bad breath bacteria in your mouth live on your tongue. That’s why cleaning your tongue goes a long way toward curing bad breath. That and flossing between your teeth can be the best things you do for that condition.
The anterior (front) part of your tongue is somewhat self-cleansing. Usually it is the posterior part of your tongue that is the source of more odors. But the back of your tongue can also be difficult to clean.
How should you clean your tongue?
The goal of tongue cleaning is to remove as much bacteria and debris as you can. The rough surface of the tongue attracts tiny food particles that help bacteria grow, and if you remove these particles, you will inhibit the growth of the bacteria. You can also physically clean off quite a few bacteria.
Clean as far back on your tongue as you can. This may tend to make you gag, but if you persist you can lessen the gag reflex.
There are also brushes that are made specifically for cleaning your tongue.
Tongue scrapers are the most effective method for cleaning your tongue. A tongue scraper is a plastic strip that you fashion in a loop. With your tongue in the loop, you pull the loop out of your mouth and it removes a tremendous amount of debris.
Several companies that make bad breath mouthwashes also make tongue scrapers and special tongue brushes and pastes for cleaning the tongue. TheraBreath, founded by Dr. Harold Katz, sells many of these devices and aids. TriOral and BreathRx offer similar lines of products. I have posted links to help you find these products. Just visit our main bad breath page and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Read more about the causes of bad breath.
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This content was written by Dr. David Hall.