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If you are trying to treat a case of chronic bad breath, you might want to try using a tongue cleaner.
This might seem like an odd approach, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider that most bad breath actually comes from the back of the tongue.
The surface of the tongue is covered with little mounds called papillae that are, in turn, covered with taste buds.
In all the little grooves and valleys between the taste buds and papillae, bacteria are living.
Many of these bacteria are anaerobes, bacteria that flourish in the absence of oxygen.
Anaerobes smell very bad.
Tucked away in the back of the tongue, anaerobes lie protected from oxygen, mouthwashes, and other things that might sweep them away - a tongue scraper can remove large numbers of them, especially if it is used regularly.
Many people just use their toothbrush as a tongue cleaner, brushing the tongue when they brush their teeth.
A toothbrush is not the ideal tool however.
As a tongue scraper, a regular toothbrush is a bit big.
The thickness of a toothbrush when it is held with the bristles down (as it would be to brush the tongue), is certainly big enough to activate the gag reflex if it is pushed too far back in the mouth.
People who use a toothbrush for a tongue cleaner probably don't get far enough back to contact the majority of the bacteria that cause bad breath.
In addition, the bristles of a toothbrush are a bit harsh to be used on the tongue - used too vigorously, they can cause soreness.
An ordinary teaspoon is a better choice.
Used face down as a tongue scraper a teaspoon can remove considerable amounts of the material coating the back of the tongue.
Again, however, the spoon was not designed to be a tongue cleaner: the shape is not quite right and hard metal edges can damage tender tissues at the back of the mouth and top of the throat.
East Indian people have been using tongue scrapers for generations and in recent years, Western oral health professionals have designed instruments for scraping the tongue that are both gentle and effective.
If you want to use a tongue cleaner, consider buying a tool properly designed for the job.
It can make a big difference to your breath.

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