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Can you use dental floss as a tongue scraper?

Yes, you can use dental floss as a tongue scraper, but it may not be as effective as using a proper tongue scraper. Dental floss can remove somebuildup from the surface of your tongue, but it doesn’t scrape as deeply or thoroughly as a tongue scraper.

What is the purpose of tongue scraping?

The purpose of tongue scraping is to remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that build up on the surface of your tongue. This buildup, known as tongue plaque or a tongue coating, can contribute to bad breath. Tongue scraping helps freshen your breath by reducing the amount of bacteria and other compounds that cause odors.

How does a tongue scraper work?

A tongue scraper is a small oral hygiene tool, usually made of plastic or metal, that is designed specifically for cleaning the tongue. Tongue scrapers have a long, narrow blade with edges that allow you to scrape the surface of the tongue in long strokes. The unique shape and design enable the tongue scraper to reach deep into the grooves and crevices of the tongue.

Can dental floss work as a tongue scraper?

Dental floss can remove some debris from the surface of the tongue when used in a scraping motion. However, dental floss has some disadvantages compared to a purpose-made tongue scraper:

  • Dental floss is thinner and more flexible than a tongue scraper, so it can’t apply as much pressure to lift debris out of tongue crevices.
  • The thin floss can only clean the smooth, flat middle portion of the tongue. It can’t reach the deeper grooves at the back of the tongue.
  • Dental floss frays and shreds easily. Tongue scrapers are more durable for repeated scraping.
  • Dental floss lacks the designed grip and ergonomic handle that make a tongue scraper easy to control and use at the back of the mouth.

Advantages of an actual tongue scraper

While dental floss can work in a pinch, using an actual tongue scraper has some clear advantages:

  • The rigid, inflexible blade reaches deep into the grooves and crevices of the tongue to lift out debris.
  • The curved shape hugs the tongue to cover more surface area.
  • Tongue scrapers allow you to apply firm pressure and a robust scraping motion.
  • An ergonomic grip and handle make the tongue scraper easy to use.
  • Tongue scrapers are designed to be durable with repeated use.

Proper technique for using a tongue scraper

Using proper technique is important to get the full benefits of tongue scraping. Here are some tips:

  • Always scrape from back to front. This avoids pushing bacteria towards the throat and swallowing it.
  • Rinse the tongue scraper before and after each use.
  • Apply moderate pressure andscrape with firm, long strokes.
  • Clean the entire tongue surface, focusing on the deep rear area.
  • Rinse the mouth with water or mouthwash when done.
  • Scrape the tongue twice daily – morning and evening – for best oral hygiene.

Are electric tongue scrapers better?

Electric tongue scrapers are also available. These devices use batteries to vibrate the tongue scraper head. Some benefits of electric tongue scrapers include:

  • Vibration helps loosen debris for easier cleaning.
  • Covers more surface area faster than manual scraping.
  • May be easier for those with dexterity issues.
  • Provides a massage-like effect for increased blood circulation.

However, they are more expensive than regular tongue scrapers. And the vibration may feel uncomfortable to some. Manual tongue scrapers are effective for most people when used properly.

Should you scrape your tongue?

There are good reasons to consider adding tongue scraping to your oral care routine:

  • Freshens bad breath – Scraping removes odor-causing bacteria.
  • Prevents plaque buildup – Bacteria on the tongue causes plaque.
  • May improve taste – Removing coatings allows for better taste sensation.
  • Supports gum health – Reduces bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • It’s easy and quick – Scraping takes less than a minute.

Scraping is considered more important for those vulnerable to bad breath. Consult your dentist to find out if tongue scraping could benefit your oral health.


Dental floss can be used to scrape the tongue, but it is not an ideal tool. Floss is limited in its ability to reach all tongue areas effectively. Specialized tongue scrapers are designed specifically for optimal cleaning. With proper technique, tongue scraping as part of your oral care routine can freshen breath, remove bacteria, and support oral health.