Q. My friend is raving about a tool she bought to scrape her tongue, saying it makes her breath much fresher. Does tongue scraping work?
A. For someone with persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, using a tool to scrape the tongue can indeed make a difference. Here's why: many of us build up a white or yellowish coating on our tongues consisting of food debris, bacteria, and dead skin cells. This happens when tiny bumps on the tongue called papillae — which "grab" food and help move it to the throat — trap this buildup, which develops a bad smell after bacteria settle in.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
About the Authors
Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor
Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor at Large, Harvard Women's Health Watch
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.