Tonsil stones are quite common, but people are often unaware that they have them or they feel embarrassed by them as tonsil stones often cause bad breath or metallic taste in the mouth. It’s rarely a serious condition, but it’s worth knowing how to deal with the problem fast and naturally.
The Definition of Tonsil Stones
Tonsils are located in out throat and are extremely important tissues, which boost our immune system when some infection wants to attack our organism. When you open your mouth wide, you can see your tonsils.
These are soft and fleshy structures at the back of your throat. Their most important compound are lymphocytes, which protect your from viruses and bacteria.
Tonsil stones develop because tonsils are constructed from various crevices, tunnels, and crypts. That means that it’s very easy to contaminate them with bacteria from mucus, dead cells, saliva, or food fragments.
These materials like to accumulate in tonsils, forming pockets. After some time the materials calcify, becoming hard and this is how the tonsil stones start to develop.
In the medical world tonsil stones are also called tonsil calculi or tonsillitis. They feature irregular structure and are yellowish or whitish. Tonsil stones may form in different parts of our throat, but usually you will find them behind your wisdom teeth or lower molars. You may also observe them at the back of your mouth or on the roof of the mouth.
What Are The Symptoms of Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones may cause various symptoms and the most common one is at the same time the most embarrassing one as it’s bad breath. It’s quite a logical symptom as the material which accumulates in the crevices of tonsils just can’t smell nice.
Different bacteria and even fungi form on these build ups and that smells bad. Moreover, tonsil stones often appear together with tonsil infections, which also lead to bad breath.
Tonsil stones also often cause an impression of swelling and discomfort, or that something blocks our throat. It often appears together with a sore throat and pain as when tonsils stones are big or they are in a bad location, they may irritate the throat, which you will mainly feel while swallowing.
The irritation and feeling that there is something in our throat is a very annoying symptom itself, but it can also lead to the unexplained cough or a metallic taste in your mouth.
Strong pain appears only when the tonsils are bright red, they bleed, or inflamed. If you observe such symptoms, you need to consult your doctor at once. When tonsil stones develop close to the ear area, they may also lead to ear pain.
Some tonsil stones are not clearly visible because they hide deep in the crevices of your tonsils. Then, what you can observe is a solid lump of white debris on the surface of your throat. The only way to locate the stones then is by the use of magnetic resonance imaging or CT scans.
There are many cases when you won’t be even aware that you suffer from tonsil stones, as they often don’t cause any unpleasant symptoms, especially if they are small. However, the moment you observe white lumps in your throat, you should get rid of them quickly so that they won’t grow bigger.
Can You Observe Your Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones may appear in different locations and you can often easily detect them on your own. Prepare a small mirror and good light, open your mouth wide a have a look inside. You will see fleshy structures on both sides of the back of your throat, these are your tonsils. They are made of various crevices, pits, crypts, and they have an oval shape.
If you can also see there irregular lumps in a yellowish, greyish, or whitish color, you’ve probably just found your tonsil stones. Remember, though, that they are often hidden in the tissue of your tonsils so if you don’t see anything, but you experience symptoms typical for tonsil stones, consult the issue with your doctor.
The Best Home Remedies to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones
If you’ve observed tonsil stones in your throat, they aren’t very large, inflamed or red, and they don’t cause pain, you can try to get rid of them with these simple and natural home remedies. In many cases they appear effective and tonsil stones go away without the need of a medical intervention.
1. A Lot of Water
That’s probably the easiest method in the world, but to get rid of tonsil stones it’s often just enough to drink a lot of mineral water. It will simply clean the tonsils from all the unwanted materials, which may be the source of bacteria, such as food parts or mucus and they won’t build up in your tonsils.
Drinking mineral water on a daily basis is actually the cheapest and the most effective way of flushing the toxins out of the body. It’s important, though, to drink a large amount of it which is at least eight glasses of water a day.
Tonsils are very important for our immune system and that’s why it’s important to keep them clean because only then they function properly. What’s more, water will keep your organism well-hydrated and the bacteria will stay away as they won’t find good conditions in your body to develop.
2. Salty Water
Another simple, yet effective method to get rid of tonsil stones is to rinse the throat with salty water. Salt has great antibacterial and cleansing properties and therefore, when mixed with water, can effectively flush your oral cavity from all the debris that built up in your tonsils.
You should try this method when you suffer from frequent throat infections or bad breath. It’s also the best preventive measure that won’t let the tonsil stones to develop in your throat. It’s important, though, to use the method on a daily basis, at least twice a day. You can use a non-alcoholic mouth wash too, instead of salty water.
3. Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions are natural antibiotics, which will kill all the bacteria that accumulated in your oral cavity and thus they can also eliminate tonsil stones effectively.
It’s important, though, to eat garlic and onions raw as only then they keep their wonderful qualities. Chew garlic cloves several times a day or eat three onions every day. It will keep all the bacteria and oral infections away.
The only problem with garlic and onions is that they feature intense smell so always remember to brush your teeth afterwards.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C can help you eliminate tonsils stone quickly, but it’s important to take it from a natural source instead of supplementation. The best method is to start a day with a glass of water with a squeezed lemon or lime in it. You can also add there some honey for better taste.
Vitamin C has wonderful cleansing qualities so before you drink the mixture it’s good to gargle your throat for a while. You should eliminate the tonsil stones if you follow the procedure every day.
5. Drink Yogurt Every Day
Another easy, but effective solution to get rid of tonsil stones. Yogurt contains probiotics, which naturally protect your organism from bacteria. If you drink a cup of yogurt every day you should eliminate tonsil stones and also prevent them from further development.
Yogurt will also naturally moisturize your throat which is very helpful in case of irritation. It’s important, though, to choose natural yogurt, without artificial sweeteners. You could always add there some fresh fruit for better taste.
6. Good Oral Hygiene
As bacteria and fungus are the main causes of tonsil stones it’s very important to maintain proper oral hygiene on a daily basis. The debris won’t accumulate then and tonsil stones won’t develop.
It’s crucial to brush your teeth after every meal with a top quality toothpaste. A toothbrush is also the source of bacteria so change it every three months. It’s worth rinsing your mouth with a mouth wash or salty water once you brushed your teeth.
7. A Balanced Diet
If you don’t want to develop further tonsil stones, you need to make sure that your mouth is watery as bacteria don’t like it. Include in your diet plenty of fruit and vegetables to give yourself a proper amount of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.
Remember, though, that apart from natural yogurt, too much of dairy products is not a good idea as they are the main reason of mucus, which can lead to tonsil stones. Similarly, don’t exaggerate with calcium.
The Best Ways to Remove Tonsil Stones at Home
If your tonsils stones are located in such a place that you can clearly see them, you may also try to remove them at home in just a few minutes.
There are a few methods of tonsil stones removal, but you will need both your hands free so no matter which of the solutions you want to try, prepare a stable mirror and lighting first.
1. Use Your Tongue
Tonsil stones are often firmly bedded in your tonsils, but if you don’t feel any pain when you touch them, you may try to loosen them with the use of your tongue only. Of course, detect your tonsil stones first.
It will be easier if your mouth is watery so before you start the removing, gargle your mouth with salty water or a mouth wash. Then try to push your tonsil stones with your tongue or swallow them at the back of your throat.
2. Use a Cotton Swab or Your Finger
You can manipulate on your tonsil stones with cotton swabs too. In order to make them more delicate to your tonsils, wet the swabs before you use them. Find your tonsil stones and simply try to remove or push them with the use of cotton swabs.
If you don’t have cotton swabs, you can try it with your fingers as well. However, you must remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after the procedure. Also, disinfect your oral cavity with salty water or a mouth wash.
3. Use Your Toothbrush
The toothbrush you use every day may turn out to be the tool which will remove your tonsil stones due to its long shape. Open your mouth wide and use a flat tip of the toothbrush to lift the tissue of your tonsil. Once you detect the stones, use the side with brush to scrap them from your throat.
4. Water Flossing Device
The force of water might be very useful in the process of removing the tonsil stones. You can do it with the use of a water flossing tool and with the help of a cotton swab or a toothbrush. Remember, though, to direct a water flossing device no longer than a few seconds as otherwise you may choke with the water.
5. Use a Tonsil Stone Removal Kit
Ask at your chemist’s about a special kit created to remove the tonsil stones from your throat. There are different types available on the market varying in size and price. For sure, they will help you remove your tonsil stones quickly.
When to See a Doctor?
A doctor who will help you get rid of tonsil stones professionally is known as a laryngologist or an ENT doctor, which stands for ears, nose, and throat. Consult the doctor if any of the above methods don’t work or you’ve been suffering from such symptoms as pain in your throat or in one or both ears, discomfort, inflammation, and bleeding from tonsils.
The doctor may remove the tonsils during your appointment. It’s a minor and painless procedure, but if you are really sensitive, the doctor will use a local anesthetic. There are also some other possible treatments of tonsil stones, which your doctor may recommend you.
If no methods work or the tonsil stones keep coming back, your doctor might recommend you a surgical removal of not only the tonsil stones, but the whole tonsils. However, it’s always a last resort only when all the other ways fail to help.
There is a lot of controversy about the method of tonsillectomy. Some doctors believe that it’s the worst possible solution as once our tonsils are removed, our organism starts to be vulnerable to various infections as the role of tonsils is to protect us from bacteria and viruses.
On the other hand, people who underwent the surgery often say that they get ill as often as before the operation. Moreover, some people even report that they get ill less often.
Fortunately, a partial tonsillectomy is often enough to get rid of the problem. It’s the procedure in which only the fragment of your tonsil affected with the stones is removed while the rest stays unchanged. It’s especially helpful for people who have the problem with recurrence of tonsil stones.
The surgery is rather safe and any complications appear rarely. However, the first days after the operation may be quite troublesome as you may experience some pain or bleeding, and you will have some difficulties while eating.
You will need to rest for a few days and drink a lot of water. In case of strong pain your doctor will prescribe you some painkillers. The greatest advantage of tonsillectomy is that tonsil stones won’t develop in the future any more.
Cryptolysis is more advanced and at the same time less invasive way of tonsil stones removal than tonsillectomy. The two possible types of this procedure are known as laser tonsil cryptolysis and the other one as coblation cryptolysis.
Laser tonsil cryptolysis is a safe and minor procedure, during which a doctor will remove just the pockets and crevices where the tonsil stones are located. He removes the affected tissue with the use of a laser. It’s a painless method and also no special measures must be taken afterwards.
Coblation cryptolysis is actually very similar, but the tonsil tissue is cut with the use of waves. Crevices and pockets which are affected with tonsil stones are removed. You won’t feel any pain and you don’t have to take any special precautions afterwards as well.
Cryptolysis seems to be a perfect solution. However, the biggest disadvantage is that it’s often a short-term method. It happens like that because the tonsil tissues are not removed, which means that tonsil stones might come back in the future.
The least invasive, but also the least effective method of eliminating tonsil stones. The most commonly used antibiotic in case of tonsil stones is amoxicillin. It will create an environment, which is not suitable for bacteria causing the stones.
The problem is that the antibiotic is effective only when you take it and a short time afterwards. Later, it’s very probable that the stones will come back. What’s worse, the bacteria may get immune to the drug and your tonsil stones can grow bigger.
Antibiotics may also cause some side effects such as stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. That’s why, fewer and fewer doctors recommend antibiotics nowadays.
How to Prevent Tonsil Stones
If you finally managed to get rid of tonsil stones, you need to be aware that they may come back. Luckily, there are some preventive measures you can take, which should keep them at bay.
Proper oral hygiene is the most important rule you should always remember about. Never skip brushing your teeth and do it after every meal. Brush your teeth thoroughly for three minutes and clean your tongue too. In this way you will eliminate all the bacteria that may lead to the development of tonsil stones.
Be aware, though, that your toothbrush is also a potential source of bacteria. That’s why change it to a new one every three months even if it still looks good. After brushing your teeth, also clean your toothbrush carefully as if you don’t do that you may later transfer the bacteria to your mouth.
It’s also a good idea to rinse your mouth regularly. You can do it with a mouth wash that you can buy at your chemist’s. However, pay attention if it’s alcohol-free or if at least there is a low percentage of it. You can also prepare your own mouth wash at home.
Just prepare a glass of water and add there some salt or squeeze there some juice from a lemon. Gargle and rinse your mouth with the mixture twice a day and you can be sure that no tonsil stone will dare to form in your throat.
Flossing is a great idea too as it will help you remove the bacteria from your oral cavity. Do it every day, but remember that flossing should be always followed by rinsing your mouth with a mouth wash or salty water. Otherwise, you will leave all the bacteria from flossing in your mouth.
Don’t forget about drinking a lot of water on a daily basis as it will keep not only your oral cavity, but the whole organism free of bacteria.
Eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables as a balanced diet will strengthen your immune system and the bacteria won’t attack you so often. The food products you should consume regularly are apples, carrots, garlic, and onions. Avoid soft drinks or junk food as they weaken your immune system.
Take probiotics, either in the form of natural yogurts or in the form of supplementation. They will develop good bacteria in your organism and will boost your metabolism.
It needs some time and patience, but tonsil stones may be successfully eliminated. If they are not very troublesome, start with the easiest, home solutions in order to get rid of them. If they don’t work, consult your doctor and he will discuss with you possible treatments and you will together choose the best option for you.
Go to a doctor immediately if your tonsil stones are extremely painful, they are inflamed, they bleed or you experience some other symptoms such as coughing or you get throat infections frequently.