How To Clean Your Tongue Correctly?

Posted on Posted in General Oral Health

According to studies, 35 % to 45 % of the people around the world are having some level of chronic Bad Breath (Halitosis). Other than that, everyone suffers from Bad Breath (Halitosis) at some points in their life and at sometime of the day. You will not be able to get rid of Bad Breath (Halitosis) until you know the correct way to clean your tongue daily. Tongue cleaning should be part of the daily oral hygiene practise in order to achieve a holistic good oral health. You could clean your tongue either before or after you brush your teeth.



Why Do I Need To Clean My Tongue?

Bacteria builds up on and in between your teeth & also on your tongue. The surface of your tongue is covered in tiny projections called as papillae. Bacteria, food particles, dead skin cells & bad odour compounds collect around these tongue papillae. These bacteria and other food debris trapped on your tongue could result in bad breath (halitosis). Thus, tongue cleaning should be included as part of the dental care routine for a holistic good oral health.

What Are The Tongue Cleaning Tools?

There are 3 common types of Tongue Cleaning Tools available to clean your tongue. You can either brush your tongue with your normal toothbrush, use a tongue scraper, or use a specially made tongue brush. The traditional method for tongue cleaning involves the use of tongue scraper, which is either made of metal or plastic.

What Are The Correct Ways To Clean Your Tongue?

Millions of bacteria collect on your tongue, and simply brushing your teeth doesn’t remove those bacteria completely. After you have brushed your teeth, always remember to clean your tongue properly for proper oral hygiene. Techniques of Tongue Cleaning differ slightly based on the tongue cleaning tools that are being used. The correct methods of tongue cleaning are discussed below based on the tongue cleaning tools of your choice.


  1. Using a regular Toothbrush
    1. First, a pea size of toothpaste is applied on your toothbrush.
    2. Then, extend your tongue.
    3. The bristles of toothbrush is then used to brush the top & side surfaces of your tongue with a light pressure.
    4. Tongue cleaning is done at the back of your tongue first, then move forward.
    5. Repeat this movement until the entire tongue is cleaned properly.
    6. Finish the tongue cleaning by rinsing your mouth with either mouthwash or water.
    7. Rinse the toothbrush off after using it to remove any debris from your tongue.
      Tongue Scraper – Photo By Niro5 at English Wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Using a Tongue Scraper
    1. A tongue scraper could clean your tongue more thoroughly.
    2. First, extend your tongue.
    3. Simply place the edge of the tongue scraper on the back of your tongue.
    4. Then, scrape or brush your tongue from the back of the tongue to the front.
    5. Scrape the entire top & side surfaces of your tongue gently.
    6. Residue will be collected on the tool. Rinse it off with water, and then continue tongue cleaning process.
    7. Repeat this procedure a few times in order to adequately clean your tongue entirely.
    8. Focus on the center of your tongue where the most bacteria lies.
    9. Finish the tongue cleaning by rinsing your mouth with either mouthwash or water.
    10. Rinse the tongue scraper off after using it to remove any debris from your tongue.
      Tongue Brush – Photo By MyName (A.J. Wilcox) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
  3. Using a Specially Made Tongue Brush
    1. These tongue brushes are specially designed to clean the crevices of the tongue.
    2. First, extend your tongue.
    3. Simply place the tongue brush on the back of your tongue.
    4. Then, brush your tongue from the back of the tongue to the front.
    5. Brush the entire surfaces of your tongue, by using light pressure.
    6. Repeat this procedure a few times until your tongue is cleaned entirely.
    7. Finish the tongue cleaning by rinsing your mouth with either mouthwash or water.
    8. Rinse the tongue brush off after using it to remove any debris from your tongue.


Which Tongue Cleaning Tools Are More Effective?

The bristles of normal toothbrush are designed specifically to clean the smooth surfaces of your teeth. However, the surface of your tongue is rough. Thus, normal toothbrush may not clean your tongue thoroughly. Studies have shown that tongue scraper is able to eliminate higher percentage of bad door compounds in the mouth as compared with the use of regular toothbrush. This shows that tongue scraper is more effective in tongue cleaning.

How Often Should You Clean Your Tongue?

Always finish your oral hygiene routine with a tongue cleaning after teeth brushing & dental flossing. You should clean your tongue at least twice a day (once in the morning & once in the evening). If you notice a bad breath (Halitosis) at any time of the day, you should clean your tongue to remedy the situation.

After proper tooth brushingdental flossing and tongue cleaning, rinse your mouth with mouthwash to kill the remaining bacteria in your mouth.

Routine tooth brushing, flossing and mouth rinsing alone will not give you a fresh breath. Adequate tongue cleaning will help in keeping your breath neutral and fresh.


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Article written by,

Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
Dental Surgeon.

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