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Fall 2007

A Penny for Your Tongue

Copper Scraper Stops Bad Breath Before It Starts

Copper tongue scrapers can be used to remove sulfur compounds, or VSCs — the culprits behind bad breath.

High-resolution version of this photo.

Got mint? If not, a quick application of copper can put the brakes on bacteria that cause bad breath. But you won’t find this breath-saver at a checkout counter.

According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, bacteria on your tongue break down food debris into volatile sulfur compounds, or VSCs—the culprits behind stinky breath. The study recommends tongue scraping as the most effective way to remove the compounds and improve bad breath.

Many tongue-scraping devotees use naturally antimicrobial copper scrapers, which are considered to be more comfortable on the tongue and do a better job than brushes or plastic scrapers. Although this practice may not permanently stop bad breath, studies have shown that bacteria build-up is significantly less when tooth brushing is followed by a vigorous tongue scraping.

Copper tongue scrapers are available on many health, dental and yoga Web sites, and are sold through and eBay. Among yoga disciples, daily cleaning with an unalloyed copper scraper is considered beneficial to maintaining the body’s elemental balance, or kapha. Cu

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