There are hundreds of causes of bad breath, and yet tonsil stones seem to out-gross nearly all of them. What makes them so repellant? Is it because they create one of the most powerful forms of halitosis you can have? Or is it because they lurk at the back of your throat, ready to be accidentally coughed out during the most mortifying of moments?
Whatever the reason, we've found that the most popular articles about tonsil stones involve those rare ones that get described in headlines and study titles as "huge" or "colossal." Well, it's not even halfway through 2012, and already the dental journals haven't disappointed.
What is a tonsil stone?
This little object - also called a tonsillolith - is born, where else, on your tonsils. It all starts when small bits of food get caught in the folds of your tonsils. They get inflamed and wrinkly, which makes them catch more food.
From there, bacteria go to work breaking down the proteins in this scum, creating powerful oral odor. Over time, tonsil stones gather more mass just like a pearl. They grow and grow and grow...
Two cases of titanic tonsilloliths
So far, two case studies of abnormally large tonsil stones have already been published this year. The first appeared in the journal Case Reports in Medicine, titled An Unusual Case of a Tonsillolith. (It's open-access, so you can check it out for free!) In it, doctors recounted meeting a 52-year-old Bangladeshi man who thought his bad breath was coming from a fish bone stuck in his throat.
It turned out to be an inch-wide tonsil stone.
In the other study, published in the Journal of Surgical Case Reports, researchers recalled pulling an equally "giant" tonsil stone from the throat of a 17-year-old girl with swollen glands.
She also had halitosis, as you might expect. Nothing a little specialty breath freshener (and, in these cases, minor surgery) can't fix.