You may have noticed you have bad breath, or someone close to you has bad breath so bad that regular toothpastes, mouthwashes and other products don't do the job of clearing it up or getting rid of it permanently. While there are a number of potential causes of bad breath, it is also possible that recurring halitosis may be the result of what are known as tonsilloliths or tonsil stones calcified debris that become lodged in the tonsils at the back of the throat and that can build up over time. In fact, a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that 75 percent of patients that had high amounts of sulfur in their mouth a leading cause of bad breath also had tonsil stones. But what are tonsilloliths, exactly?
The technical term for tonsil stones is tonsilloliths, the “lith” portion of the word is taken from ancient Greek and meaning “stone”. These stones form on or within the tonsils, which are pockets or “nets” on either side of the mouth, just before the throat. Although the exact function of the tonsils is not precisely known, it is thought that they are supposed to capture bacteria and viruses before they make their way into the stomach, and that they form a part of the immune system, since they are made of lymphocytes, cells that help fight disease in the body. At a young age, your tonsils will produce antibodies that help you fight off respiratory illnesses, and will gradually shrink over time once you have reached puberty, though they never entirely disappear. Unfortunately, even when they are no longer functioning to fight illness they can become inflamed thanks to the debris and bacteria that they capture. When this occurs, tonsillitis is the result, and if it is severe enough, the removal of the tonsils may be necessary. Tonsil stones have been shown to form more frequently in those who have repeated bouts of tonsillitis.
The life of a tonsil stone in your mouth begins when a piece of debris be it a wayward cell, piece of mucus, or bacteria becomes trapped in the tonsils and begins to decay. This trapping may or may not result in a tonsil inflammation, and is often not able to be seen with the naked eye, as your tonsils have many twists and folds that provide an excellent place for a stone to grow. The area affected will attract other debris, and once enough has been collected, it will begin to calcify and turn into a hard, white formation a tonsil stone. In some cases, a single, large stone will form on a tonsil, while in others many small stones will appear. Over time, you may notice that you begin coughing up small, hard white spheres these are stones that have become dislodged from your tonsils. In addition to calcifying and becoming hard, the process of forming tonsil stones also causes the release of sulfur compounds into your mouth as the stones grow, resulting in bad breath. The stones may also cause you to have difficulty swallowing, especially if you have a large formation or if they cause the tonsils to become inflamed. Tonsil stones are not as hard as real stones and will not cause damage if swallowed accidentally.
You can expect to have a number of symptoms depending on the size and placement of the stones in your mouth, including a sore throat, trouble swallowing and ear pain, as the nerve cluster which feeds your tonsils is also connected to your ears. Bad breath will be one of the key indicators of tonsilloliths, and it will be both very foul and long-lasting, and won't be tied to any food that you eat or as a result of “morning breath”.
The debris that makes up a tonsil stone can come from many sources, and do not require the presence of a tonsil infection to turn into a tonsil stone. It is possible that you will not notice the formation of stones in your mouth, and may present no symptoms even as the stones begin to harden. The organic nature of the stones makes them difficult to detect and because of their often small size, you may not be able to see them, no matter how wide you open your mouth, and they may be found during unrelated procedures, such as an X-ray or CT scan.
You have a number of choices when it comes to dealing with tonsil stones, starting with simply leaving them alone. In many cases, the stones will disintegrate on their own or be coughed out. You may also wish to try a home remedy, such as the Tonsil Stones Starter Kit from Therabreath, which gives you tools to both ease discomfort and dislodge tonsil stones. Antibacterial drugs may be prescribed upon consultation with your dentist, but they cannot eliminate the underlying cause of tonsil stones debris becoming trapped in your tonsils. A tonsillectomy is the only way to guarantee that the stones will never return, but is not required in most cases to treat tonsil stones and eliminate their symptoms.
If you find yourself with severe bad breath, a sore throat, and have noticed small, white lumps near the back of your mouth, you may have a case of tonsil stones or tonsilloliths. These calcified deposits of bacteria and decaying cell and food matter harden into balls that either sit on or hide in the tonsils, and may present as many small white objects or one large stone that is stuck to a tonsil. Although these stones can be painful and may reoccur with bouts of tonsillitis, they can be treated either by letting them run their course, using home remedies, or having your tonsils removed.
While tonsil stones are inconvenient and can be socially awkward owing to the severe bad breath they cause, these organic matter deposits can be treated and removed, ensuring your mouth remains healthy and clean.
TheraBreath® Products to Tonsilloliths
Fortunately, a remedy that effectively inhibits the formation of tonsil stones without requiring the person to undergo a painful tonsillectomy has been made available through the efforts of Dr. Harold Katz, inventor of the most effective line of oral hygiene products called TheraBreath. As a well-known dentist and prominent bacteriologist, Dr. Katz discovered many years ago that bad breath and tonsil stones originated from the same source--anaerobic bacteria and the detrimental effects of dry mouth. Because of his extensive studies, Dr. Katz developed oral hygiene products that contained only natural, oxygenating ingredients and none of the alcohols or surfactants found in other name brand toothpastes and mouthwashes.
TheraBreath's Tonsil Stones Deluxe Kit offers sufferers of embarrassing and uncomfortable tonsilloliths the ability to prevent tonsil stone formation and avoid the severe halitosis that accompanies the appearance of these stones. Consumers purchasing this kit will receive one toothpaste, two bottles of oral rinse, two sheets of AktivOxigen tablets, three bottles of nasal-sinus drops, three PLUS extinguishers sprays, one AktivOxigen serum and three rolls of ZOX mints for all-day fresh breath. By using these items according to Dr. Katz's directions, the mouth becomes hydrated and oxygenated, two conditions in which anaerobic bacteria cannot live. In addition, the increase in saliva flow keeps mouth debris from collecting in the surface crevices of the tonsils, a major factor in tonsillolith formation.