Tonsil stones are quite normal. Truth be told, several people get them but wouldn’t even know that they had them. But what causes these stones, and are they directly connected with halitosis?
Tonsil stones are deposits that grow within your tonsils. They can be as small as a grain of rice and grow up to a size of a grape. In a study done in 2007, it was found that 75% of the participants with bad breath or halitosis had tonsil stones.
What Do Tonsil Stones Look Like?
Tonsil stones or tonsilloliths are hard white or yellowish formations that are found on or inside the tonsils. The occurrence of tonsil stones is very common, and most people who have them don’t even realize that they do have them. This is because tonsil stones are not very easy to see, and they can range in size. Some may be a small as a grain of rice, while others can be as large as a grape.
While these stones do not cause significant harm or complications, they can grow large enough to make your tonsils swell and cause an unpleasant odor. (Source: Healthline)
How Do Tonsil Stones Develop?
Tonsils are made up of several folds, crevices, tunnels, and pits. These are called tonsil crypts. Different kinds of debris like dead cells, mucus, saliva, and food get trapped in these folds and pockets. They eventually build up and bacteria or fungi start to feed on this build-up which would subsequently cause a distinct smell.
The debris caught in the folds eventually hardens into a tonsil stone. Some people would develop only one stone, while others would have several formations. Most of the time, tonsil stones are caused by: poor dental hygiene, large tonsils, chronic sinus issues, or tonsilitis. (Source: Healthline)
What Are the Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?
Most of the time, tonsil stones are difficult to see. Most people have tonsil stones but never find out about them until they truly become noticeable. Some of the symptoms include; bad breath, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, cough, swollen tonsils, and the formation of white or yellow debris on the tonsils.
When tonsils are smaller in size, symptoms may not be seen or felt at all. (Source: Healthline)
How Can One Prevent Tonsil Stones from Occurring?
If you have or are prone to tonsil stones, there are actually measures you can take to prevent them from occurring.
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth regularly and cleaning the bacteria that might be at the back of your tongue.
- Stop smoking.
- Gargle with saltwater or mouthwash.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Can Tonsil Stones Be Removed?
Most forms of tonsil stones are harmless. But many people prefer to remove them because of the smell and discomfort. There are several treatments that can be done at home and some that would require medical assistance. Some home remedies include: gargling with salt water, coughing it out to loosen the stones, and manually removing the stones with a cotton swab.
As mentioned, there are medical procedures that can also be done to remove tonsil stones like later tonsil cryptolysis, coblation cryptolysis, tonsillectomy, or antibiotic treatments. (Source: Healthline)