How to Clean Your Tongue to Prevent Bad Breath?

Sometimes you feel embarrassed and low in confidence because of the bad smell of your mouth. Scientifically, this condition is also known as halitosis. There could several causes of bad breath including not so clean tongue. Some people either forget to clean their tongue or do not follow proper method for tongue cleaning. Either way, there are attracting various oral problems such as tooth decay, bad breath, etc.

The tongue is the place which can house a large bacterial population. Also, the primary cause of bad breath is the microorganisms which are present in the oral cavity. It is also one of a most common oral condition found across the world. (1)


Bad breath is an issue which cannot be solved by mints, rinses, mouthwash or a good brushing. Unlike “morning breath” or a strong smell that lingers after a heavy meal, halitosis remains for a longer duration of time and may be a sign of something more serious underlying issue which you need to consider. (2)

Why it’s necessary to clean your tongue to fix bad breath?

The tongue has the most significant bacterial amount than any part of your mouth. By cleaning your tongue regularly, you can avoid bad breath, prevent increased tooth decay, and also an unsightly tongue.

Here are reasons to clean your tongue to achieve good oral health and get rid of bad breath –

  • A clean tongue can eliminate odor-causing germs that build upon and cause bad breath.
  • By cleaning your tongue, you can remove the plaque film and harmful bacteria that lead to gum disease and other severe diseases that can spread throughout the body. Also, a clean tongue can help improve your overall health.
  • A clean tongue helps you enhance your quality of life. You won’t have a bad taste in your mouth and your food will have more flavors.
    By brushing your tongue and removing the accumulation of plaque film, which dulls taste buds, will help you enjoy your favorite meals.

How to clean your tongue?

Sometimes you forget cleaning your tongue after brushing your teeth. It is very essential to clean your tongue as it harbors bacteria and food debris trapped under a thin layer of mucus.

Remove this odor-causing buildup by brushing the top of the tongue using a small dab of toothpaste carefully. Following are the basic steps you can follow to clean your tongue completely –

  • Extend your tongue so that you can access the full length of the tongue.
  • Scrape or brush your tongue from the throat towards the opening of the mouth. Do this repeatedly.
  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash and rinse thoroughly to wash away any remaining loose debris. Ultimately, the process should freshen your breath.

how to clean your tongue

Use a Tongue Scraper to clean your tongue better

For a more extensive cleaning, you can use a tongue scraper. This dental tool is usually made up of soft, flexible plastic and gently removes the thin mucus-based layer of food debris and bacteria from the tongue.

Rinse the scraper properly under warm water after every swipe of the tongue. Concentrate on the center of the tongue while a using tongue scraper because the center of the tongue is where the bulk of odor-causing bacteria lie.

Don’t work the tongue scraper with an excess of pressure on your tongue as it can make your tongue feel sore or even bleed.

What leads to bad breath?

Dental Issues, such as caries or cavities, deepen from gum and give extra space for bad breath bacteria to hide in deeper areas of the mouth.

They are difficult to clear in regular brushing or interdental cleaning which is between your teeth and contribute to halitosis or bad breath. (3)

The paranasal sinus and nasal sinus, with throat issues, can lead to postnasal drip which also contributes to bad breath. Bacteria feed on mucus that forms in your body which provides optimum growth areas for the bacteria to feed on. Thus, this can lead to halitosis or bad breath.

Saliva formation and your oral health go hand in hand. Saliva rinses cleanse and remove unwanted leftovers from your mouth.

It also helps in the breakdown of food when you eat and also provide disease-fighting agents to help prevent caries and other oral infections.

If there is less secretion of saliva, this may be an indication of halitosis. Reasons that can cause low saliva secretion are medications, alcohol consumption use of tobacco or excessive caffeine or caffeinated drinks.

Also, if you are not cleaning your tongue properly, then over a period, it will lead to bad breath problem.

Other remedies to get rid of bad breath

  • Avoid consumption of strong smelling foods like spices, garlic and onions, and any other sulfur-containing food product.
  • Cutting down on sugary foods and drinks or refined carbohydrate as they can provide more suitable conditions and optimum nutrition which could increase the number of bacteria in your mouth.
  • Tobacco products harm your body and cause your bad breath. Not only many tobacco products leave their odor on your breath, but they also dry out your mouth. Smokers and tobacco users are more likely to develop gum disease such as periodontitis or gingivitis, which can also lead to halitosis.
  • Halitosis is often connected to your mouth or oral hygiene. It may also be a sign of gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease for which you have to consult your physician.

Over to you

You cannot ignore the importance of a clean tongue. So, make sure that you clean your tongue regularly and properly. If still, you notice bad breath issue, then visit your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will track down the reason behind bad breath or halitosis


With a proper cleaning and examination of your oral cavity, your dentist can rule out other oral health problems and advise you on further steps, which include types of dental products to be used, long-term treatment plans to deal with caries or any other gum disease or refer you to a physician to follow up.

The cause of bad breath for the vast majority of the population comes down to bad oral hygiene. (5)


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