The top surface of the tongue can be cleaned using a tongue cleaner, a tongue brush/scraper or a toothbrush. However, toothbrushes are not considered as effective for this purpose because they have a smaller width and are designed for brushing teeth, which have a solid structure unlike the spongy tissue of the tongue. This can reduce its ability to remove debris and microorganisms. Some toothbrush designs have projections on the back of their heads to act as a tongue cleaner.
Ergonomic tongue cleaners are shaped in accordance with the anatomy of the tongue, and are optimized to lift and trap the plaque coating and effectively clean the surface of the tongue. There are many different types of tongue cleaners. They can be plastic or metal straps, plastic and/or small brush bristles that form "rakes" or circular devices with handles. Their effectiveness varies depending on the shape, dimensions, configuration, quality of the contact surfaces and materials used. Tongue cleaners are mostly inexpensive, small, easy to clean and durable.