The condition of having tonsil stones is also known as tonsillolithiasis. The structure of our tonsils is such that it has certain crevices and pouches. These might act as foci of accumulation of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus or certain other materials. Also, food debris might get accumulated in these crevices and pouches, in a person with insufficient hygiene practices. These areas of tonsils act as a breeding ground for certain varieties of bacteria that are found in the upper respiratory tract. These materials get accumulated and eventually calcify leading to formation of tonsil stones.
These tonsil stones have varying degree of calcification and can be seen at the back of your mouth/ start of your throat and appear whitish to yellowish in colour. The size and number may vary from person to person.
Also, the symptoms are quite variable. They might range from mild to moderate discomfort to frank pain, inflammation of tonsillitis, bad breath, post nasal drip, bad/metallic taste in mouth, distaste towards food, soreness in throat, frequent coughing, difficulty in swallowing, pain radiating to ear of the involved side. In different people there might be combination of any of these.
Prevention of Occurrence And Recurrence of Tonsil Stones
When it comes to formation of tonsil stones, prevention is always better than cure.
- Maintain good oral hygiene by rinsing mouth after every meal, brushing your teeth twice a day, use of antibacterial mouthwashes twice a day, cleaning of tongue using a tongue cleaner/ scrapper or back of a tooth brush.
- You can take up warm saline rinses twice a day. This disfects your mouth and reduces germ build up in the tonsillar region.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day and reduce intake of sugary drinks, as much as possible.
- Avoid cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption as much as possible.
- Avoid consumption of dairy products to avoid recurrence of tonsil stones, if you have had a previous history of the same.
- You may also use diluted hydrogen peroxide mouthwash and swish it in the mouth.
- Avoid mouth breathing. Go for treatment of underlying causes if you suffer from mouth breathing that is not habitual.
- Take up a diet that has lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as this contains a lot of enzymes that are helpful with recurrence tonsil stones, in particular and good for health, in general.
- On prescription from your doctor, you may start on some blood purifiers to prevent recurrence of tonsil stones.
- It has been found that sulphur producing bacteria are found to be a chief culprits behind the formation of tonsillar stones so, chewing some garlic cloves is a good idea, if you are prone to tonsil stones.
- Swish your mouth or gargle using some diluted apple cider vinegar.
Ways To Remove Tonsil Stones At Home
While using these methods you have to be gentle and do not apply too much pressure. Bleeding is common during removal of tonsil stones. However, consulting your health care advisor before doing this at home removal is highly recommended.
- You may massage the tonsils using a soft bristled tooth brush. This often loosens the stones and you might then pick them using a q tip.
- Another way is to press at the lower edge of the stones using a clean cotton swab.
- A mouth rinse made out of lemon juice and iodised salt causes the tonsil stones to become loose making their removal, easier.
- A medicine dropper can be used to create suction and remove/ pluck the stones, if they are loosely embedded.
- A water pick can be used to remove stones, too.
Surgical Treatment of Tonsil Stones:
If none of the above method works for you then surgery might be your only bet in that case. Depending on the extent of your problem, you might need to get the stones removed or sometimes even the entire tonsils removed.
Surgical removal basically involves curetting out the stones that are embedded in the tonsils. Some other procedures include laser resurfacing and laser tonsillectomy.