As gross as it may sound, a host of bacteria live in your mouth on a daily basis. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when bacteria hang out on your tongue for too long, they can cause discoloration and bad breath (also known as halitosis.) Here’s how to clean your tongue when it starts to get filthy.

Quick-and-easy method: mouthwash

Clean your tongue in a pinch by swishing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash. This may not totally get rid of the bacteria on your tongue, but it should minimize your bad breath.

Thorough method: tongue scraper

There are a variety of tongue scrapers on the market, so if you’re unsure which one to buy, consult your dentist. Use your tongue scraper every time you brush your teeth, starting at the back of your tongue and brushing towards the front. No need to be violent, though; cleaning your tongue shouldn’t hurt! Be sure to scrape gently, brushing off food and bacteria only.

Budget-friendly method: your toothbrush

If you don’t want to buy an extra tool to clean your tongue, you could just use your toothbrush! While many toothbrushes have a bumpy tongue-cleaner built-in on the back of them, you could also brush your tongue the same way you brush your teeth–using the bristle side!

Regardless of what tool you use, clean your tongue each time you brush your teeth as a part of good oral hygiene.

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