How to use a tongue scraper: a step by step guide with tips

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Using a tongue scraper is an effective way to remove bacteria, food particles, or dead cells from the surface of your tongue, which can also help improve your bad breath and overall oral hygiene.

As you can see the benefits of tongue scraping are numerous, and you might want to use and it correctly. So, how to use a tongue scraper? Using a scraper is not rocket science, you can learn it quickly. The general problem people come across is their sensitive gag reflex. We will mention some tips about how to avoid or prevent the gag reflex, how to store your scraper, and how often you should replace it.

If you are ready let’s begin with how to use a tongue scraper properly!

How to properly use a tongue scraper?

Cleaning your tongue with a scraper is a fast and effective method that takes no more than 2 minutes. To make sure you properly clean, we prepared a list for you including tips for your gag reflex. Most people find it uncomfortable but when you learn how to deal with the gag reflex, the scraping will be much easier.

Here we’ll start with the easy guide to tongue scraping.

A step-by-step guide to using a tongue scraper

While scraping there are some points that you should consider like cleaning your scraper and covering every part of your tongue. Here, we explained every single step of the process you need to follow.

1. Before starting clean your scraper to make sure it has no bacteria on it. Even if you newly bought it, washing your scraper with water is not a bad idea.

2. Open your mouth wide enough and stick out your tongue. You can use a mirror to see the excess debris build-up or stained places.

3. Place the scraper on your tongue. As food debris tends to collect at the back, aim the scraper as far back on your tongue as possible.

4. Gently slide it down. Make sure you are not using too much pressure but enough to scrape the bacteria.

5. Clean your scraper with warm water after every pull. You can also clean it with a washcloth.

6. Repeat all these steps until you feel like you cleaned the entire surface of your tongue and removed all debris. 

How often should I use a tongue scraper?

This a common question that people ask when they first start. Can you use a tongue scraper every day? The answer is yes!

One of the best ways to reduce bacterial growth in your mouth is to clean your tongue on a daily basis. Since bad bacteria tend to grow quickly, scraping your after brushing can effectively reduce the number of bacteria. Dentists recommend scraping once or twice a day.

When is the best time to use a tongue scraper?

Do you use a tongue scraper before or after brushing? If you do not have any idea about when to use it, you should know that the best time to use a tongue scraper in your oral hygiene routine is right after you brush your teeth.

Those who use oil pulling or mouthwash might have some question marks in their mind. Should you use a tongue scraper before or after oil pulling? When do you use a tongue scraper before or after mouthwash? Let’s answer your queries.

Using mouthwash after scraping will improve your oral health a lot. After scraping your tongue, you expose and agitate all the bacteria stored there. Now, the scraper will help with getting rid of most of that gunk. And using mouthwash can help you wash away whatever is left, and help with your bad breath problem.

If you use oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice, you can do it after you are done cleaning your scraper and rinsing your mouth with water. Just like mouthwash, the oil will gather up all the leftover bacteria.

As for the time of day, you can scrape both in the morning, and before you go to sleep to keep bad breath at bay.

When should you skip it?

It’s best to skip scraping for a few days if you’re experiencing any kind of sensitivity on your tongue, or around your mouth. If you have an open sore, scarring, or some kind of infection you should not be using a scraper. No matter how gently you use it, it can still hurt, or make the condition worse by spreading it. 

It’s also best to avoid it for a few days if you burned your mouth on accident with a dangerously hot cup of coffee, or bit your tongue.

Some safety tips

If done with the wrong tools and the wrong technique, scraping can do more harm than good. Make sure that the pressure you use is super gentle. You should not feel any sensitivity after you’re done scraping. If you’re experiencing sensitivity, scale it back a little and use light pressure. You can also change the type of scraper you use. 

In order the get the most amount of bacteria out, it’s best to place the scraper as far as you can reach and clean the entire tongue. However, make sure that the scraper doesn’t touch your soft palate. Especially if you have a gag reflex. If you place the scraper too far back, the sudden reflex can touch the surfaces of your mouth you don’t want to and cause sensitivity and injury. Luckily, there are some things you can do to avoid activating your gag reflex. 

Tips on how to avoid the gag reflex when using a tongue scraper

Now that you learned all about how to use a tongue scraper, in this part you will find some good tips about the gag reflex. It is essential to scrap the back of your tongue because that is the place where bad breath-making bacteria are usually found. While scraping it you can try these tips to avoid the gag reflex.

  • Use a wide scraper: Using a small scraper might trigger your gag reflex more. Try using one of the wide ones, or a tongue brush.
  • Start scraping from the middle: Normally you should clean the entire surface, starting from the back. But if you found it hard you can start from the middle and slowly go back.
  • Using a mirror helps: Seeing what you are doing will help you guide the scraper in the correct place.
  • Make a fist: You can use the element of distraction to avoid the gag reflex. Making a fist will help you focus on your uvula less.


Christensen GJ. Why clean your tongue?. J Am Dent Assoc. 1998;129(11):1605-1607. doi:10.14219/jada.archive.1998.0109 Link

Dudzik A, Sozkes S, Michalak E, Olszewska-Czyz I. Efficacy of a Zinc Lactate Mouthwash and Tongue Scraping in the Reduction of Intra-Oral Halitosis: A Single-blind, Controlled, Crossover Clinical Trial-A Pilot Study. J Clin Med. 2021;10(23):5532. Published 2021 Nov 26. doi:10.3390/jcm10235532 Link

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