I use this $14 tongue scraper every morning to combat bad breath, and it has actually made a difference

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NMC4V5C_bzNeiman Marcus

  • I use a $14 copper tongue scraper every morning.
  • Tongue scrapers remove bacteria buildup on your tongue for better oral hygiene. Mainly, it means better breath.
  • Despite the fact that it sounds completely made-up, it's a pretty common practice.

It might seem odd, but I spend about 30 seconds every morning standing in front of my bathroom mirror, scraping my tongue with a $14 copper wishbone.

It's called a tongue scraper, and its primary purpose on Earth is to remove the bacteria on top of tongues that account for as much as 80% of bad breath. It's also supposed to return tongues to their more aesthetically pleasing soft pink, and, in the long term, strengthen overall oral health by keeping the armies of pathogens in the mouth at bay.

While most of us are probably used to haphazardly pressing our toothbrush into the service of cleaning our tongues, toothbrushes are specifically designed to clean hard surfaces - like teeth - and not the soft muscle of the tongue. For that, you need something more rigid - like a copper tongue scraper - to literally scrape against its flexible top. But, beyond that, I found the idea of brushing bacteria into and around my tongue like a car wash, and undoubtedly onto the bristles of my toothbrush, prohibitively gross on its own.

After a friend recommended this copper tongue scraper repeatedly, I bought one. (Yes, someone loved this enough to mention a fairly gross ritual to me publicly, multiple times). Ever since, I feel a little queasy when thinking about how many years I went without it. Flossing and brushing are impactful, but once I started using a tongue scraper, it was immediately evident just how much I was missing.

I use the tongue scraper in the morning before I brush my teeth so I have the lowest odds of ingesting any of the natural buildup. To use, you scrape your tongue from back closest to your throat to the front, and then rinse your tool in warm water. Pretty much instantly, I noticed a difference: better color (who knew?) and more confidence throughout the day. While research is limited on the effectiveness of tongue scrapers, what has been published describes it as temporarily effective, though not a fix for ongoing, chronic halitosis.

You can pick up much cheaper options from Amazon, like this $7 version that inspired more than 1,000 people to sit down and write it a five-star review, but I went with the $14 copper version from Neiman Marcus for a few reasons.

  1. Copper is antibacterial. I didn't want to simply relocate the bacteria from my mouth to somewhere else. I wanted to get rid of it.
  2. It looks nice, and if a tool for a relatively gross job can look nice, I've learned it often leads to me using it more frequently.
  3. It comes with a small, simple traveling pouch so you can keep up with the practice on the road, and do so without stuffing a tongue scraper into a plastic Ziploc bag - the fastest way to lose your appetite for using it ever again.
  4. At the end of the day, $7 more for something I don't mind being on-view in my apartment is $7 worth spending on building a habit.

All in all, a $7 or $14 tongue scraper is not an essential purchase, but it is a relatively cheap and high-impact way to do away with anxiety over oral hygiene or bad breath hours after you've brushed at home. I bought one months ago, and it's quickly become a daily ritual.

Black Chicken Remedies Cuprum Tongue Cleaner, $14

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