As a dental hygienist I am often asked about tonsil stones. If you have ever had one, I’m sure you cannot get that horrid, distinct smell out of your head. Many people want to know what on earth caused something so awful smelling to come out of their throat.
What are tonsil stones?
Tonsil stone, also known as Tonsilloliths, is a soft collection of cellular debris and bacteria that aggregate in the tonsillar crypts at crevices of the tonsils. This occurrence is common to occur in the palatine tonsils. However, it could also be discovered in the lingual tonsils.
It is a common occurrence that most people with tonsil stones might not even realize that they have them. This is due to the varying size of the tonsil stones. Some are easy to spot with their accompanying symptoms. They also range in size from mustard seed-sized to a size range of a lemon.
These tonsil stones, in most cases, do not cause larger complications to health. In most cases, it is the irritation in the throat area and the swallowing troubles that are irritating.
Tonsil stones are also referred to as throat stones due to their specific location and the effect they have. To a larger extent, these throat stones cause a lot of discomfort to its host. There are certain symptoms that point towards the fact that you may have throat stones accumulating on your tonsillar crypts.
Causes Of Tonsil Stones
Most of the debris that aggregates to become tonsil stones are as a result of dead cells, mucus, food remnants and saliva that are trapped in this area. This causes the build-up of tonsil stones and is being acted upon by bacteria and fungi.
This action and reaction result in a distinct foul odor that is not hard to miss. There are different potential causes of tonsil stones. Some of which include:
- Inflamed tonsils
- Poor dental hygiene
- Chronic sinus issue
- Large tonsils
Tonsil Stones Symptoms
There are some symptoms you may experience if you have tonsil stone aggregation in your tonsillar crypts. These include:
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Swallowing troubles
- Ear pain
- Continuous coughing
- Swollen tonsillar crypts
- Whitish debris on the tonsil.
- Coughing up tonsil stones
Tonsil Stones Treatment
The treatment of tonsil stones is achievable. In most cases, they can be removed individually without the help of a doctor. However, a doctor should be brought in for a consultation of any of the following cases arise
- Different Symptoms Of Tonsil Stones Are Manifesting But No Stone Is Visible
Ultimately, this could be as a result of hidden stones in the throat region. It requires careful cross-examination by a doctor for the detection of these types of tonsil stones. It is also important to recall that these tonsil stones can be as little as a mustard seed or as large as a lemon. In cases like this when the tonsil stones are not visible but the symptoms are manifesting, it is best to consult a doctor.
- Complete Removal Is Not Possible From Home
If you desire to completely get rid of all the tonsil stone on your tonsil crypts residing in your throat, it is better to consult your doctor. If you remove these stones at home, you might not be able to get all of them out in those attempt at removal. With the special equipment available to the doctors, they are able to spot and remove these tonsil stones completely.
- Red, Swollen And Painful Tonsils As A Result Of Tonsil Stones
When symptoms of the swollen and painful tonsil are being detected, it is advisable to go visit the doctor immediately. Especially when it becomes red in color. This is an indication of your tonsil condition entering the chronic level and you’d be requiring immediate medical attention. It could also be another type of infection already manifesting from the continuous actions of fungi and bacteria in that region.
- Continuous Pain Felt Even After Removal Of Tonsil Stone
This could be as a result of incomplete removal of the total tonsil stones in the throat region. The proper removal of all the tonsil stones will most likely result in the reduction of the pains in the throat region. It could also be something totally different that could have been the cause of continuous pain. Visiting a doctor will help in clarifying these issues and finding the best solution to these issues.
- Better Equipment For Treatment By Doctors
Asides from the fact that doctors have a lot of experience in treating tonsil stone patients, there is a vast level of equipment at their disposal for this treatment. Doctors could treat and remove the tonsil stone with laser resurfacing. Also, a procedure called coblation tonsil cryptolysis could also be recommended. Here, the reshaping of the tonsils and the reduction in the number of crevices is carried out. This is to reduce the number of crevices in which these tonsil stones could aggregate and grow.
It is, however, worthy to note that upon removal there is still the possibility that these tonsil stones might grow back on the tonsil crypts again.
Tonsil Stone Removal At Home
Tonsil stones can also be removed and treated at home. People are always interested in getting them out due to the level of caused discomfort. There are various home remedies and procedures associated with tonsil stone treatment. Some of these procedures include:
The vigorous gargling activities with salt water is a well-known procedure for reducing and easing throat discomfort. It is also a dislodging tactic for the built-up tonsil stones. Saltwater is also useful in the treatment of mouth odor as a result of tonsil stones.
Energetic coughing may result in the loosening of the tonsil stones built upon the tonsil crypt. Most times, people discover they have tonsil stone aggregation when they cough out one. This procedure should be managed properly so as not to cause irritation in your throat area
- Manual Removal
The removal of tonsil stones directly with rigid objects like your toothbrush is not advised. This may cause internal bleeding and unwanted infections in your throat area. The tonsil is a vascular area with delicate tissue that is important to your digestion process. The removal of tonsil stones manually is risky and may lead to an unforeseen complication. If you want to remove these stones completely, it is better to consult a medical practitioner.
Tonsil Stone Prevention
Here are some of the prevention mechanisms recommended to prevent tonsil stone aggregation:
- Good oral hygiene
- Properly chewing your food
- Frequent brushing and flossing
- Regular medical checkups
To Wrap It Up
There are other conditions that can give the same symptoms of tonsil stones like the ones outlined above. Some of these conditions included strep throat, gum disease, tooth decay, tonsil cancer and so on. It is important that a medical practitioner is consulted for proper recommendation and treatment of tonsil stone related issues.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.