Tonsil stones (also called tonsilloliths) are caused by an accumulation of sulfur-producing bacteria, fungus, dead cells, food debris, and mucus that collect in the tiny pockets/crevices (crypts) dotting the surface of the tonsils. If you have allergies, sinus issues, or ear infections, the associated fluid can drain into your tonsils, creating a buildup. Treating these health problems can help alleviate or reduce the number of tonsil stones. If tonsil stones do not cause any symptoms, they can be left alone and eventually will break down on their own.
Tonsil stones can be removed using home remedies, but larger ones may require the attention of a medical professional. A key component of combatting tonsil stones is oxygenation. The bacteria and debris that cause tonsil stones are effectively reduced when subjected to sufficient levels of oxygen.
Simple Home Remedies
Coughing: Although a simple solution, tonsil stones can sometimes be dislodged with a few strong coughs. For added force, push the root of your tongue up and forward, as if you're trying to squeeze your tonsils. Tonsil stones smell foul, so remember to cough into a facial tissue and discard this immediately.
Cotton swabs: If you don't mind reaching into the back of your mouth, try using a soft cotton swab to gently wipe tonsil stones off of the tonsils. There is a risk of gagging or injuring sensitive tissue, so extra care needs to be taken.
Hydrogen peroxide: When diluted with water, this makes an effective gargling solution. The white particles can sometimes indicate an infection and hydrogen peroxide works by purifying the mouth and tonsils. Hydrogen peroxide is not intended for consumption and can be harmful when ingested, so care has to be taken to not swallow any of the solution.
Mouthwash/Oral Rinse: Gargling helps to break up the phlegm that settles in the back of the throat. TheraBreath oral rinses are effective at preventing tonsil stones and bad breath (halitosis). They are all natural and do not contain any ingredients that can exacerbate this problem. Whatever mouthwash you choose, make sure it does not contain alcohol, because this will dry out your mouth and encourage the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria.
Oral Irrigator: Irrigating the back of the throat is another method for removing tonsil stones. This also cleans tonsil crevices and may help prevent future formations of tonsil stones. However, the spray of water from an oral irrigator should be kept low in order to lessen the chance of further irritating inflamed tonsils. Using an irrigator that connects to the sink is suggested since the water spray can be adjusted by regulating the faucet.
Physical activity: Running, practicing yoga, or participating in any other kind of regular physical activity helps lymph fluid move more freely through the body. Head and neck exercises and practicing Kundalini yoga are thought to be especially beneficial.
Food and Dietary Intake: Mineral deposits (such as calcium) in the mouth can become excessive and create an overabundance of tonsil stones. Modifying your diet may help reduce tonsil stones. The most common approach is to switch to a vegetarian or raw food diet that contains live and active enzymes. Since changing your diet overnight is impractical, slowly modify the foods you eat, limiting consumption of starchy foods and red meat. Probiotics contain good bacteria that help neutralize the bad bacteria responsible for tonsil stones and bad breath. Good sources of probiotics include sauerkraut, tempeh, and pickles. Limit dairy products in your diet because these foods are rich in the protein anaerobic bacteria thrive on. These changes may result in the added benefit of a reduction in phlegm and improved overall health.
Natural blood purifiers in pills or drops: When your body is fighting an infection, it tries eliminating it as quickly as possible, and one way is through tonsil stones. Purifying the blood may help improve overall health, thereby reducing the number of tonsil stones. These are available from local health food stores or online.
As an increasing number of tonsils stones form, they create large craters in the tonsils. This is the body’s natural way of trying to eliminate them from the body. After a period of time, the craters continue to grow in size. A medical procedure called laser cryptolysis helps close the craters. Tonsil stones are not considered a health emergency unless your tonsils are swollen and you have tonsillitis. As such, laser cryptolysis is generally considered elective surgery, so may not be covered by health insurance.
Larger tonsil stones are typically more solid and may require the attention of a medical professional. A dentist or oral surgeon can typically excise them with a gouge-like tool while the patient is anesthetized with a local numbing agent.
Tonsil Removal (Tonsillectomy)
The most drastic method for combatting tonsil stones is to surgically excise the tonsils. The adenoids are generally also removed during a tonsillectomy due to their close proximity to the tonsils. The tonsils and adenoids play a role in immunological health, therefore their removal is only recommended when the patient experiences frequent bouts of infections or tonsillitis. While children have tonsils removed without complications, tonsillectomy risks increase in adults. Most doctors discourage tonsil removal in adults who have frequent tonsillitis or infections, preferring to prescribe antibiotics.
Watch Dr. Katz Discuss Tonsil Stones and Their Treatment
TheraBreath oral care products are based on years of research conducted by Dr. Katz, a well-known dentist and prominent bacteriologist. He discovered that bad breath and tonsil stones originate from the same source ? anaerobic bacteria and the detrimental effects of dry mouth.
Tonsil stones are a treatable and avoidable condition that can cause embarrassing bad breath. The combination of TheraBreath Aktiv-Oxigen Serum and TheraBreath PLUS Nasal-Sinus Drops can effectively help alleviate tonsil stones without surgery. In addition, the use of TheraBreath Throat Spray will neutralize anaerobic sulfur-producing bacteria on contact. These products are available individually. TheraBreath also offers a handy Tonsil Stones Deluxe Kit which includes everything you need to combat tonsil stones and bad breath, including oxygenating toothpaste and a full box of mouth wetting lozenges.
There is no substitute for a rigorous oral hygiene routine. In addition to thoroughly brushing your teeth, cleaning your mouth, throat, and tongue minimizes mucus and bacteria buildup. This reduces the potential calcification of these substances, a suspected cause of stone formation.
* Statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new therapy.