Tongue cleaner

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Tongue cleaner
Tongue scraper

A tongue cleaner (also called a tongue scraper) is an oral hygiene device designed to clean the bacterial build-up, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. The bacteria and fungi that grow on the tongue are related to many common oral care and general health problems. In addition, decaying bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds on the rear of the tongue; these molecules are the main cause of halitosis, or bad breath. Tongue cleaners lift and remove these materials from the tongue surface.


Ergonomic tongue cleaners are shaped in accordance with the anatomy of the tongue, and are optimized to lift and trap the plaque coating and effectively clean the surface of the tongue. There are many different types of tongue cleaners, made from plastic, metal or wood. Their effectiveness varies widely depending on the shape, dimensions, configuration and quality of the contact surfaces, and materials used.

Historical background

Regarding the origins of tongue cleaning, it is known that they have been used since ancient times in India [1] and China.

Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine, recommends tongue cleaning as a daily regimen of the body hygiene, to remove the toxic debris, known as Ama.

Very common in 19th century, there were numerous examples [1] made of sterling silver, ivory and tortoishell.

Importance of tongue cleaning

Fresh breath

Tongue cleaning is meant to remove some of the millions of bacteria (up to 500 different types), decaying food debris, fungi (such as Candida), and dead cells, from the surface of the rear of the tongue. Tongue cleaning is generally viewed as the solution for most cases of halitosis, or bad breath. Scientific studies have shown that in approximately 80-90% of cases, bad breath originates in the oral cavity, mainly from material on the rear of the tongue. Research shows that only about 10-20% of cases originate in the stomach or the tonsils.

Better oral hygiene

It is estimated that approximately 70% of the bacteria in the oral cavity thrives on the surface of the human tongue. These microorganisms colonize and multiply on the protein (from decaying food particles) rich areas of the tongue, and eventually reach along with saliva all areas in the mouth, the teeth and gums as well. This is considerable contribution to the periodontal problems, plaque on the teeth, generating tooth decay, leading to gum infections and gum recession.

General health

Oral bacteria is associated with a number of serious systemic infections.

Alternative medicine

Cleaning the tongue does at the same time a thorough massage to different areas of the tongue, which is known from the traditional Chinese medicine as a reflexogenic zone. [2]

Tongue cleaning improves the sense of taste (because of cleaning the taste buds) and also stimulates the secretions of digestive enzymes.[3]

Who recommends tongue cleaning

In the past several years the medical scientific community, dentists and hygienists recommend daily tongue cleaning as part of the general body hygiene, along with tooth brushing and flossing.

Since it promotes general health, and is a real solution to bad breath, tongue cleaning proves to be a healthy daily habit as well as an insurance to self esteem and image for people adopting it.

External links


  1. The Daily Routine -by Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S., M.A.Sc., Ayurvedic Physician European Academy of Vedic Sciences.
  2. Diagnosis by Tongue - The Chinese Medicine Sampler
  3. Dincharya - Modern Daily Regimen Ayurveda - I Love India