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Tonsil Stones Treatment

By - Bad Breath Expert

Often under diagnosed, tonsil stones are a common health problem that remains relatively obscure although more and more Americans are affected every year. Patients seeking an effective tonsil stones treatment approach can opt to remove their tonsils completely or choose a less invasive approach that manages their condition holistically.

tonsil stones treatmentAccording to international studies, tonsil stones and the accompanying bad breath symptoms are found in 75 percent of patients suffering from recurring tonsillitis. Patients that are predisposed to this condition or have parents who suffer from tonsil stones find that calcified material builds up in their tonsils regularly. Tonsil stones are created when dead cells, mucus and foreign particles become trapped in the skin folds and cavernous tonsil crypts. This problem can become extremely uncomfortable triggering swelling, ear aches, sore throats and foul breath. When food particles and dead cells build up inside the tonsil crypts, bacterial organisms that create bad odors are immediately attracted to the area. In this anaerobic or low-oxygen environment, these bacterial organisms thrive and release sulfurous compounds as a byproduct of their metabolic process. Patients suffering from tonsil stones are frequently faced with the decision to remove their tonsils completely or create a tonsil stones treatment plan that involves regular maintenance and the periodic removal of the calcified material.

Table of Contents:
1. What are Tonsil Stones?
2. Symptoms of Tonsil Stones
3. Common Tonsil Stone Causes
4. Tonsil Stones Treatment Methods
5. Tonsil Stone Prevention Strategies
6. Summary

1. What are Tonsil Stones?
When debris becomes trapped in the wrong places, it can cause extreme discomfort, foul odors and physical problems. Much like kidney stones or appendicitis, painful tonsil stones are formed when foreign matter and calcified material build up in isolated locations. It’s important to remember that tonsil stones are not a sign of poor hygiene or oral health practices. Tonsilloliths or tonsil stones are formed when dead cells, mucus and debris become sequestered and compacted inside the tonsil crypts. These hardened yellow or white globules can aggravate the surrounding tissue, trigger inflammation, attract odor-causing bacteria and lead to pain and discomfort in the surrounding area. Occasionally, concretions and calcified deposits accumulate on the roof of the mouth and in the back of the throat as well, although they are typically found in the tonsils, which are located in the back of the mouth directly behind your lower molars or wisdom teeth.

2. Symptoms of Tonsil Stones

Small tonsil stones often produce subtle symptoms, which allow them to go unnoticed for years. Despite the prevalence of tonsil stones, many doctors have difficulty diagnosing this condition. When white or yellow matter is present on the surface of the tonsils, tonsilloliths are fairly easy to detect. However, masses hidden under the surface and skin folds that cover the tonsils are typically diagnosed after X-rays or CAT scans. Many patients discover they have tonsil stones after a CT scan or X-ray is ordered for a different condition. Persistent bad breath is one of the most prevalent symptoms of tonsil stones. Painful swallowing, metallic tastes, ear pain affecting local nerve paths, coughing, choking, visible debris, and sensations that the throat is restricted or closing are all common symptoms linked to tonsil stones.

3. Common Tonsil Stone Causes

Despite years of research, scientists have yet to pinpoint the root cause behind the growth of tonsil stones. Studies have linked tonsil stones to post-nasal drip, dry mouth caused by medications and cases of chronic or recurrent purulent tonsillitis. Genetic factors, such as the size, shape and depth of the tonsil crypts, may also contribute to a patient’s likelihood of developing tonsil stones. The matter that creates tonsil stones is also known to attract bacteria and fungi that exacerbate the condition and cause severe bad breath and physical discomfort, which make the condition more apparent.

4. Tonsil Stones Treatment Methods

Tonsil stones or tonsilloliths affect one in every 10 Americans, and the numbers are projected to grow as fewer children and adults have their tonsils removed. Many people who suffer from tonsil stones have been dealing with the problem for years. Adults, teens and in some cases children can all suffer from tonsil stones. Noninvasive treatment methods are popular with many patients who prefer to live with the condition instead of going under the knife. Many people have successfully removed their tonsil stones at home with an oral irrigator or tap-mounted irrigation device that delivers a low pressure shower, which is strong enough to remove the trapped debris and tonsil stones yet gentle enough to comfortably cleanse the area without rupturing the tonsil and causing further damage.

Larger tonsil stones are easier to detect and more difficult to remove. Traditionally, the presence of white or yellowish spots near the back of the throat has been regarded as a hallmark symptom of tonsil stones. However, many more patients have tonsil stones that are not visible because the tissue folds and the structure of the tonsils covers the calcified material. Doctors have removed tonsil stones ranging from one-tenth of an ounce all the way up to one-and-a-half ounces. Larger, older tonsil stones are typically harder and more difficult to remove. In these cases, a dentist or oral surgeon can typically excise them with a gouge-like tool while the patient is anesthetized with a local numbing agent.

All surgical tonsil stone treatment methods are not invasive. Today, laser resurfacing procedures are gaining popularity as an effective way to reduce the size and depth of the tonsil crypts and create a flatter surface that is less likely to trap material and attract odor-causing bacteria. Known as laser cryptolysis, this innovative technique uses infrared light from a laser beam to target the crypts and smooth the deep crevices that trap debris. This preventative surgery is an ideal way to reshape the tonsils after tonsil stones have been excised. Unlike traditional tonsillectomies, laser cryptolysis allows patients to keep their tonsils, which many improve the immune system and help inhibit some bacterial and viral infections.

As humans and the natural environment have evolved, the purpose, effectiveness and presence of tonsils has been called into question. Tonsils are gland-like masses of lymphoid tissue that contain immunoactive lymphocytes that destroy many bacterial particles and virulent agents as they enter the body. Today, scientists know there are thousands of different germs growing on virtually every surface. In high-population environments, tonsils aren’t very effective at combating all these infectious agents. In many cases, tonsils become a hindrance when they trap debris and bacteria in the wrong places. Historically, tonsillectomies have been a popular way to treat tonsillitis and prevent potential complications, but modern doctors are now using antibiotics and other methods to treat tonsillitis without surgery. Scientific evidence suggests that people who keep their tonsils are less likely to suffer from bacterial and viral infections than those who have undergone a complete tonsillectomy.

For a small percentage of patients, tonsil stones do not cause bad breath or any uncomfortable physical symptoms, but many other patients experience chronic bad breath, sore throats and the sensation of a foreign particles being lodged in the back of their throat. When irrigation, surgical removal and preventative methods do not produce long-lasting results, a complete tonsillectomy is generally recommended. Completing a tonsillectomy is the only way for patients suffering from severe cases of recurring tonsil stones to eliminate the source of the problem once and for all. Tonsil removal procedures are completed by a specialist or oral surgeon while the patient is completely sedated under general anesthesia. Following the surgery, patients typically experience a sore throat and trouble swallowing, which subsides after several days.

5. Prevention Strategies

Learning to live with tonsil stones is an option that many people choose over invasive surgeries. Common treatment and prevention strategies include regularly removing calcified material when it causes pain or discomfort. If you are suffering from tonsillitis and tonsil stones, gargling warm salt water can help remove the debris and relieve the discomfort. Adding half a teaspoon of salt to an eight-ounce glass of warm water is a simple way to create an effective oral debriding agent. To maximize your results, the AktivOxigen Solution from TheraBreath is one of the best mouth rinses to discourage the bacterial growth that causes bad breath. This odor-eliminating tablet oxygenates the mouth and stops the bacteria that thrive in low-oxygen environments. The AktivOxigen Solution is ideal for cleansing the throat and tonsils, removing debris and eliminating odorous bacterial colonies.

6. Summary

Patients today have many options when it comes to selecting a treatment method or management strategy that fits their lifestyle. For many patients, oral irrigation, gargling and regular monitoring combined create an effective management solution. If at-home strategies aren’t enough, you may be a good candidate for minimally invasive laser resurfacing or a complete tonsillectomy. As a tonsil stone sufferer, understanding and monitoring your condition are two of the most important elements for developing an effective strategy or selecting a treatment method that fits your lifestyle.


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