Tongue scraper alternative: which one is best for you?

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Tongue scrapers are an amazing way to get rid of bad breath and bacterial accumulation in the mouth. Yet, some people look for a tongue scraper alternative due to several reasons. It can be because tongue scraper induces the gag reflex and cause the person to vomit while trying to take care of their oral health. Another reason is a bad experience with tongue scarpers. People might have hurt themselves while using it. Choosing the wrong scraper or pressing the scraper so hard against the tongue, causes the tongue surface to be injured and have tiny sores.

Now let us see what to use instead of tongue scraper. 

What can I use instead of a tongue scraper?

Tongue cleaning should be a permanent part of the oral hygiene routine. If one prefers not to use a scraper, there are other alternative methods for tongue cleaning. Below we will explain these tongue-cleaning methods so you can choose the best one for you.

  • You can brush your tongue
  • Mouthwash will do
  • Floss can be an option
  • Your teeth can take the responsibility

Let’s see which one suits you the most!

You can brush your tongue

Brushing the surface of the tongue is an effective way to maintain oral and dental health. By brushing, you prevent the accumulation of millions of bacteria on your tongue and tongue buildup. As a result, you will have fresh breath and are at lower risk for dental plaques and gum diseases as well. You can brush your tongue using a:

  • Tongue brush
  • Toothbrush

Which one should I pick?

Tongue brush

A good choice to replace a tongue scraper is a tongue brush. This is a device designed specifically to clean the surface of your tongue and remove bacteria. The tongue brush has a wide and broad surface with shorter bristles than a toothbrush. The best way to brush the tongue with this device is to start at the back of the tongue and slowly come forward while moving the brush in circular motions along the tongue. Put a small amount of toothpaste on your brush before starting. Wash your tongue with water after brushing. Do not forget to wash your brush after each use.

Just like brushing your teeth, it is recommended to brush your tongue at least twice a day. Replace your tongue brush with a new one after 3-4 months.


You can clean the upper surface of your tongue with your toothbrush. After brushing your teeth and before rinsing your mouth, gently brush your tongue. Rinse your mouth and tongue once you are done brushing. You should wash your toothbrush after using it. Do not put much force on the brush as it can cause injury or irritation to the tiny structures on your tongue surface. A toothbrush is more probable to cause a gag reflex compared to a tongue brush.

It does not make a huge difference if you are using electric toothbrushes or manual ones. There are toothbrushes that have a tongue brush on the other side. Generally, it is recommended to have a separate brush for your tongue.

Mouthwash will do

A very useful oral hygiene habit is to regularly use mouthwash. However, solely mouthwash might not be as effective. Rinsing with mouthwash alongside brushing gives the optimal result. One point you should always have in mind is not to use alcohol-based mouthwashes regularly and for a long period of time. These mouthwashes can cause mouth dryness, which can eventually end up in bad breath, the very same thing you are trying to avoid by using a mouthwash. How ironic isn’t it?

Floss can be an option

Instead of a tongue scraper, you can floss your tongue. You read it right you can floss your tongue, but how? Take a long piece of floss. Wrap its ends around your fingers and then scrape your tongue by dragging it along the tongue surface. Be careful not to be so harsh and tough. Rinse your mouth afterward.

Water flossers are an excellent replacement for manual flosses, especially for people who have difficulty flossing with their hands or have mobility problems. However, there is no evidence to show that a water flosser is a good tongue scraper alternative.

Your teeth can take the responsibility

Have you ever scraped your tongue with your teeth? Well, this is an option, though not very useful and beneficial. You can try abrading the food particles, debris, and bacterial accumulation with your central front teeth. This is effortless but not as effective as a tongue scraper. Your teeth can not reach all the areas on the tongue surface, such as the back of the tongue and the corners. In addition to that, most of the time, it could be painful. You might be at risk of biting your tongue.

Is there such a thing as “homemade tongue scraping”?

The answer to your question is yes. There are several options tried and suggested by people on social media and other platforms that we do not really approve of. The homemade options to replace a tongue scraper that people have tried are a spoon, a water bottle cap, a cable tie, a popsicle stick, and a coin.

We will only go through the most common and the safest choice, as other options are not considered for the sake of your oral and dental health. 

A spoon as a tongue scraper

The most common homemade tongue scraper alternative is nothing but a spoon. The size does not really matter, both a tea and a tablespoon can get the work done. Generally, a spoon might not work as well as a tongue scraper in removing harmful bacteria, but it still works. Get a clean spoon and put its concave surface on your tongue. Start from the back of your tongue and gently drag it toward the tip of your tongue. Rinse your oral cavity with water once you are done spoon-scraping. Do not press the spoon against your tongue and try to be as gentle as possible. Remember a spoon is not made to scrape your tongue and might hurt its soft tissue. You can do it once or twice a day, but no more. 

Friendly reminder to wash the spoon and put it aside as your new device for oral health.

A crazy question: can you use a knife as a tongue scraper? 

Disclaimer: do not try this at home! Though a butter knife is not as sharp as other knives, still it is not a good idea to use it to scrape off that tongue coating. This tongue scraper alternative has been seen on social media outlets but dentists do not recommend it. So what can I use instead of a tongue scraper? Most certainly not a knife. 


Pedrazzi V, Sato S, de Mattos Mda G, Lara EH, Panzeri H. Tongue-cleaning methods: a comparative clinical trial employing a toothbrush and a tongue scraper. J Periodontol. 2004 Jul;75(7):1009-12. doi: 10.1902/jop.2004.75.7.1009. PMID: 15341360.

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