Cleaning the tongue properly removes tongue coating, prevents bad breath and plays its part in good all-round oral hygiene. But good tongue hygiene starts with cleaning the teeth thoroughly, including the interdental spaces, so that lower levels of food residue, dead cells and bacteria accumulate on the tongue in the first place.
Tongue coating from food
Diet also has a strong influence on tongue coating: people who eat fibre-rich foods have fewer problems than those who eat more fluid foods. Vigorous chewing dislodges the coating, which is then rinsed away. It’s also advisable to scrape the tongue once a day before cleaning your teeth.
How useful are tongue scrapers?
Tongue scrapers are specially designed to clean the tongue gently but effectively and are therefore the best option for this practice. Depending on the manufacturer, the scraper is either flat or curved in shape. Dual-purpose devices have a brush on one side and a scraper on the other. Use the brush to dislodge the coating, and the scraper to remove it. Specialists advise against using household products like a spoon.
Can a toothbrush be used to clean the tongue?
Yes and no. Basically, there's no reason not to use a toothbrush, although this obviously doesn’t have the same effect as a scraper. But the critical thing is not to use the same toothbrush as that used for cleaning the teeth. This would only spread the bacteria around the mouth and therefore defeat the object of the exercise.
Remove tongue coating without gagging
The gag reflex is triggered less by a scraper than by a toothbrush. But if you find you still start to gag, the scraper may be placed too far down your throat; in which case, withdraw it slightly. If you feel nauseous, closing your eyes will help.
Cleaning the tongue with household products
Besides cleaning your teeth correctly (including the interdental spaces) and regularly, there are a number of natural products that can prevent tongue coating.
Using household products for tongue cleaning: our tips
Salt: dissolve a teaspoon in lukewarm water and wash it around the mouth.
Herbs: thyme, camomile and sage have an antibacterial effect.
Aloe vera: the medicinal plant has an anti-inflammatory and healing effect.
Oil: high-quality oils also combat bad breath and expel bacteria. Oil pulling is a natural method for dealing with tongue coating.