Even if you always brush and floss your teeth, you could still be skipping one very important oral hygiene routine: cleaning your tongue.
Failing to give this organ some love may kick-start gum disease, which is correlated with heart disease, says Pia Lieb, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist in New York City.
Perhaps more pressing: All that gunk trapped on your tongue can give you gnarly breath.
The fix: Head to the pharmacy and buy a hard, plastic tongue scraper. Avoid soft wristband models or the grooves on the back of your toothbrush. They simply aren’t strong enough, says Dr. Lieb.
In a pinch, a teaspoon should also get the job done, she says. Once you have your tool of choice, reach to the back of your tongue and rake through the fuzzy surface, or papillae, multiple times to bring any plaque, or a sticky film of food or bacteria, to the front.
(And while you’re scraping, make sure to get a good look in the mirror. See the 6 Things Your Tongue Tells You.)
After thoroughly combing through your tongue, use a mouthwash that contains hydrogen peroxide to lift out any remaining matter and rinse it out.
Do this routine twice a day, at night and especially in the morning. Anaerobic bacteria multiply in dark, moist, and warm conditions—like the environment of your mouth—when you’re sleeping, says Dr. Lieb.
Bonus benefit: A Belgian study found that tastes will appear stronger after only 2 weeks of cleaning your tongue.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health US.