Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, are small, hard calcified deposits that form in the crevices of the tonsils. They are often white or yellow in color and have a foul odor that can cause bad breath. While they are generally harmless, they can be uncomfortable and cause embarrassment.
If you have or suspect you have tonsil stones, there are steps that you can take to remove them. Additionally, there are ways to prevent tonsil stones from forming. However, it is best to contact your dentist for the best methods.
What Causes Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones are formed when food particles, dead cells, and other debris collect in the crevices of the tonsils. The natural bacteria in your mouth feed on these particles. When they feed, they produce sulfur compounds, which can produce bad breath. If you don’t remove the particles, they can transform. The debris will eventually harden into a stone-like structure.
People with larger tonsils, a history of tonsillitis, or chronic inflammation of the tonsils are more likely to develop tonsil stones.
How Do You Know If You Have Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones can be difficult to detect, as they are often small and hidden in the crevices of the tonsils. However, some common signs that you may have tonsil stones include bad breath. You may often have a sore throat or difficulty swallowing. Other symptoms include ear pain and swollen tonsils. If you suspect that you have tonsil stones, it is important to see your dentist or doctor for an evaluation.
Preventing Tonsil Stones
The best way to prevent tonsil stones is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash. Staying hydrated is another way to prevent tonsil stones. In addition, you might avoid foods that can get stuck in the crevices of the tonsils, such as popcorn, nuts, and seeds. Additionally, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can help prevent tonsil stones.
Treating Tonsil Stones
If you have tonsil stones, there are several treatment options available. The most common treatment is simply removing the stones with a cotton swab or a water pick. However, if the stones are large or difficult to remove, your dentist or doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy, which is the surgical removal of the tonsils.
In some cases, tonsil stones may lead to complications. These can include an infection or inflammation of the tonsils. If you experience fever, severe pain, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. A tonsil infection can become serious if you don’t seek treatment. In fact, any infection can become deadly without proper care. You should pay close attention to those that form in or near your head because infections can spread to your brain.
However, infections with tonsil stones are not common and are generally mild. Yet, you should still contact your dentist to help treat and prevent tonsil stones.