Tongue cleaner

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Tongue cleaner
Tongue scraper
Tongue brush
Tongue Cleaner

A tongue cleaner (also called a tongue scraper or tongue brush) 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.[1][2] In addition, decaying bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds on the rear of the tongue;[3] these molecules account for 80 to 95 percent of all cases of halitosis (bad breath).[4]


The top surface of the tongue can be cleaned using a tongue cleaner, a tongue brush/scraper or a toothbrush. However, toothbrushes are not considered as effective for this purpose because they are designed for brushing the teeth, which have a solid structure unlike the spongy tissue of the tongue.[5]

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; they are made from plastic, metal or other materials. Their effectiveness varies widely depending on the shape, dimensions, configuration, quality of the contact surfaces and materials used. In addition, tongue cleaning gels used in association with the tongue cleaners as antibacterial agents may enhance cleaning effects.

Historical background[edit]

Tongue cleaning was performed by the Romans, and was recorded in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Tongue scrapers came on the modern commercial market in 1951.[6]

Ayurveda, the practice of traditional Indian medicine, recommends tongue cleaning as part of one's daily hygiene regimen, to remove the toxic debris, known as Ama. Tongue scrapers are common drugstore items in Pakistan and India.[6]

Health effects[edit]

Fresher breath[edit]

Tongue cleaning removes a portion of the bacteria, decaying food debris, fungi (such as Candida), and dead skin cells from the rear surface of the tongue. Tongue cleaning aims at treating halitosis, or bad breath.[7] Some limited studies have shown that it is the bacteria on the tongue which often produce malodorous compounds and fatty acids that may account for 80%-95% percent of all cases of bad breath.[4] The remaining 5–20% of cases originate in the stomach, from the tonsils, from decaying food stuck between the teeth, gum disease, tooth decay, or plaque accumulated on the teeth.

Clinical studies have shown that using a tongue cleaner on a daily basis is able to help reduce anaerobic bacteria and decrease oral malodor.[8][9][10] Dental specialists generally assume that a majority of cases of halitosis originate on the back of the tongue.[11][12]

Side effects[edit]

Improper use of a tongue cleaner may induce the gag reflex and has caused some individuals to vomit. Overuse of a tongue cleaner may also cause damage to the taste buds.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harold C. Slavkin, DDS; Bruce J. Baum, DMD I (2000). "Relationship of Dental and Oral Pathology to Systemic Illness". JAMA -The Journal of the American Medical Association (284(10):1215-1217). 
  2. ^ Raul I. Garcia; Michelle M. Henshaw; Elizabeth A. KrallI (February 2001). "Relationship between periodontal disease and systemic health". Periodontology 2000. 25 (1): 21–36. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0757.2001.22250103.x. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Scientists find bug responsible for bad breath". Reuters. 2008-04-07. 
  5. ^ Pedrazzi V, Sato S, de Mattos Mda G, Lara EH, Panzeri H (July 2004). "Tongue-cleaning methods: a comparative clinical trial employing a toothbrush and a tongue scraper.". Jurnal of Periodontology. 75 (7): 1009–12. doi:10.1902/jop.2004.75.7.1009. PMID 15341360. 
  6. ^ a b Megan Kennedy (19 Jan 1999). "Cleaner tongues". Baltimore Sun. 
  7. ^ Kazor CE, Mitchell PM, Lee AM, et al. (February 2003). "Diversity of bacterial populations on the tongue dorsa of patients with halitosis and healthy patients". Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 41 (2): 558–63. doi:10.1128/jcm.41.2.558-563.2003. PMC 149706Freely accessible. PMID 12574246. 
  8. ^ Bad Breath By the Editorial Board of The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
  9. ^ Bad Breath Research The British Dental Association
  10. ^ Almas K, Al-Sanawi E, Al-Shahrani B (March 2005). "The effect of tongue scraper on mutans streptococci and lactobacilli in patients with caries and periodontal disease". Odonto-stomatologie Tropicale. 28 (109): 5–10. PMID 16032940. 
  11. ^ "For the dental patient. What you should know about bad breath". Journal of the American Dental Association (1939). 134 (1): 135. January 2003. doi:10.14219/jada.archive.2003.0027. PMID 12555968. 
  12. ^ Bad breath (Halitosis) - FAQ ADA, Oral Health Topicz A-Z

External links[edit]