Many of the bacteria that cause bad breath live where it is difficult to reach them - the tongue. Although you can vigorously brush your tongue when you brush your teeth, there is no guarantee that this will eliminate the millions of germs that live there. However, a tongue scraper can get at some, though not all, of those microorganisms responsible for your halitosis.
A study published in a 2003 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology reported finding more than 600 species of bacteria on the surfaces of participants' tongues. Importantly, all the patients chosen for the study had halitosis. Each one registered high levels of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), smelly substances emitted by anaerobic bacteria.
Similar studies have reported that using a tongue scraper can reduce oral odor. One report, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that regular tongue scraping reduced measured VSC levels by 75 percent.
A tongue scraper is a plastic device that is about the size of a toothbrush. It is run along the surface of the tongue and can reach far back into the mouth, removing bacteria and dead cells. While it may reduce bad breath, no tongue scraper can totally rid the mouth of its microorganisms. Those with persistent halitosis may consider rinsing with a specialty breath freshening product.