Dealing with bad breath despite brushing your teeth? The cause could be lurking under the surface of your tongue.
Foul oral odors can generally be traced back to anaerobic bacteria that breed under the surface of the tongue, in the tonsils and in the throat. These bacteria occur naturally, and are vital for breaking down proteins into amino acids, so that you can digest food, and because they are anaerobic, they don't need any oxygen to thrive.
However, while they do have usefulness, they can also have a downside if left unchecked. If proteins, which can be found in food, mucus, phlegm and diseased tissues, are left in your mouth too long, the bacteria will continue to feed. This leads to them excreting waste products like hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan which smell bad and taste worse. If left unchecked, the problem will only grow more intense over time.
Bacteria can live and grow under the surface of any size tongue, whether yours is small or as large of that of YouTube sensation Gerkary Bracho Blequett. The Ocala, Florida native drops other people's jaws whenever she opens hers to unfurl a four-and-a-half inch tongue that she uses to perform fun tricks. Maneuvers she is capable of pulling off include touching the bridge of her nose with her tongue, licking her own elbow and even reaching all the way up to her eyes and earlobes.
Based on the pictures of her published in the New York Post, as well as a YouTube video of her showing off, Gerkary's tongue appears to be healthy. It is very pink and without visible fibers, so she is unlikely to have too many bad breath issues to worry about. Fibers along the top of the tongue, known as papillae, provide extra areas where bacteria can live and breed, making foul oral odor a bigger concern. Other indicators that something may be amiss include a white or yellow coating along the top of the tongue, or a dark "hairy" appearance that occurs when papillae fail to exfoliate normally. This condition is sometimes caused by antibiotics.
Worried about your own tongue? Check out these images of tongues with bad breath issues and compare them to your. If you think you might be at risk based on this evaluation, consult a dentist or physician.