Have you ever coughed and up came this small white/yellowish hard substance? It may have looked like a small rock or pebble with a foul odor. These are called tonsil stones, and up to 10% of the population have these. Most of the time, these will not require extensive surgical correction or removal, and there are several ways to prevent them from occurring in the first place. If you want to learn more about tonsil stones, their causes, and how to get rid of them, talk to your local ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, or keep reading!
What Are Tonsil Stones?
Tonsilloliths, also known as tonsil stones, are small, white, or yellow debris that develops in the tonsils’ crevices. These “stones” are not actual stones but rather a combination of food particles, dead cells, mucus, saliva, and other substances. They get trapped in the tonsils’ small pockets then harden, hence the name “tonsil stones.” Tonsil stones may have a repugnant smell so that patients may become self-conscious about them. Patients with tonsil stones usually suffer from chronic inflammation of the tonsils and/or repeated issues with their tonsils.
What Are The Other Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?
Some patients may recognize other symptoms when they are experiencing tonsil stones. The patient may be able to see white or yellow substances around the tonsil area when inspecting the inside of their mouth. Their tonsils may also be swollen, and they may be experiencing difficulties with swallowing. They may also be having symptoms associated with a sore throat, such as pain in the throat and ears and a cough. Lastly, they may experience halitosis or bad breath.
What Causes Tonsil Stones and Can I Prevent Them?
Tonsil stones are composed of a build-up of bacteria, food particles, saliva, and other substances. Because of this make-up, patients with larger tonsils are more susceptible to developing tonsil stones. This susceptibility also increases in patients who engage in poor dental habits. Lastly, patients who experience chronic tonsillitis or sinus infections and other similar issues are prone to developing tonsil stones.
The substances that make up tonsil stones are present in all of our mouths, so while we cannot prevent tonsil stones by removing the substances they are made, we can engage in certain practices that can thwart the possibility of them occurring. These practices include, but are not limited to, practicing good oral health habits, ceasing smoking, drinking more water, and gargling with salt water regularly.
How Can I Remove Them?
Without getting an ENT or other medical specialists involved, there are a few remedies patients can try to remove their tonsil stones. They can try gargling with warm, saltwater to flush them from the tonsils. Productive coughing can also dislodge them. Lastly, though not advised, a patient can manually remove them with a q-tip. If patients are looking for a remedy performed by a medical professional, there are other options available to them:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics can be prescribed to patients with tonsil stones, but they will not address the primary cause.
- Laser Tonsil Cryptolysis: In this procedure, a laser is used to clear out the space in which the tonsil stones are lodged within the tonsils.
- Coblation Cryptolysis: In this procedure, the entire tonsil is treated and cleared of all tonsil stones lodges within their crevices.
- Tonsillectomy: In this procedure, the tonsils are completely removed.
Tonsil stones, while not life-threatening, can be an irritating occurrence that can negatively affect your self-confidence. If you are experiencing tonsil stones, contact the professionals at Camellia ENT! Their well-trained team can help guide you to a treatment that will help you eliminate embarrassing tonsil stones once and for all!