The Tool You Need To Fight Your Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Breath

I would start this post by asking you if you have bad breath, but chances are you don’t even know it. Our sense of smell and taste is based internally, so you become used to our own breath – even if it smells like you’ve been eating warm garbage.

And unfortunately, you can’t rely on someone else to tell you it’s bad. But if your dentist prefers to treat you over the phone, or when you ask your friend if you can tell her a secret and she asks you to text it to her instead, something is up.

A recent study from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and The Forsyth Institute links bad breath to the types of bacteria that dominate the back portion of your tongue after comparing the bacteria found on the tongues of those with halitosis and those with fresh breath. Researchers suggest you could help reduce halitosis by brushing not only your teeth, but also by scraping your tongue twice a day.

Why? Well, bacteria doesn't like fresh air, so it hides in hard-to-reach parts of your mouth where there’s less oxygen, like between your teeth and in the nooks and crannies of your tongue. A tongue scraper can get back there and wipe those bad bacteria guys out. Think about all of the food you ate today – the sausage for breakfast, the tacos during lunch, the chips you snacked on, the cookies you ate after dinner – all of that stuff piles up on your tongue and is still there after you’ve brushed your teeth and Listerined. Yuck!

And no, brushing your tongue isn’t enough. You’re just moving bacteria around and upgrading them to the bristles of your toothbrush – and then transferring them back to your mouth when you brush again. A tongue scraper is much more effective. Most of our oral bacteria lives on and in the deep crevices of our tongue. The scraping action of a tongue scraper evicts these freeloading, first date, job interview ruiners.

What should you look for when buying a scraper? Metal! Those cheap, plastic drug store scrapers don’t cut it. Metal and stainless steel scrapers do a better job and are more sanitary than the plastic guys. Also, look for scrapers with a wide width. These work harder so you can scrape less and are less likely to cause gagging. Sidebar, gagging is a good thing. It means you’re reaching the hard to reach places, but you can also hold the tip of your tongue to keep it steady to help with that.

Once you take a few swipes of your tongue with a scraper and see all of the gunk that's been living there rent-free, you'll wonder how you've ever kissed anyone with that tongue – and wonder if the next person who kisses you has the same guests.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in Manhattan. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.