Tongue scrapers have been shown to slightly reduce signs of bad breath in the short-term [source: Outhouse et al.]. But what do they accomplish, exactly?
These tools dislodge bacteria and fungus that have made a home on the surface of your tongue. By firmly dragging the tool from the back of your tongue to the front, you scrape off microorganisms that have established themselves there.
In studies, researchers found that tongue scrapers can reduce the presence of volatile sulfur compounds, which are associated with bad breath [source: Outhouse et al.]. Keep in mind that the scrapers should be used gently -- the idea is to remove bacteria on the outermost layer, not damage your tongue.
For people with chronic bad breath, however, visiting the dentist or doctor is recommended because continual bad breath may be an underlying symptom of another health condition. In sum, the benefits of tongue scrapers are small, but they're an option for people who want to temporarily get rid of bouts of bad breath.
On the next page, we'll look at interdental cleaners.