Why does it seem that no one really knows much about tonsil stones - what they are, how they form, how to treat them? Most people are aware of their calcified counterpart, kidney stones, yet when it comes to the throat, many appear to have little, if not incorrect, information. For those suffering with the condition, you may feel that you're alone with a rare problem, but there are more people than you may realize who are in the same boat. So, here's a breakdown of all the things you need to know about tonsil stones and how to get rid of them.
Each year thousands suffer from tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones. In a French study, researchers discovered that in more than 500 CT scans, 31 patients - nearly six percent - showed signs of the hardened material in their nasopharyngeal tonsils.
Although there is no equivalent statistics for the U.S., it is estimated that a decent percentage of the population experiences tonsil stones.
Even ear, nose and throat doctors have been known to misdiagnose them, believing they are simply leftover food particles.
So, what are tonsils and the stones really?
First of all, let's cover where they form. The tonsils are lymphatic glands located in the back of the throat. They aid the immune system by trapping bacteria and viruses. Yet sometimes, tonsil stones develop in the small crevices, where the bacteria and dead cells get caught. When this occurs, the debris can harden, or calcify, into white formations that bother us, and give the feeling that there's something caught in the back of the throat.
Why do so many people get it?
A couple reasons why the stones are so common nowadays are that firstly, fewer people are undergoing tonsillectomies. Secondly, in the last 50 years, there has been a surge in prescription medication, which can lead to the dry mouth that provides a breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria.
Effect on bad breath
Tonsilloliths often cause halitosis. According to a 2007 study at the State University of Campinas in Brazil, doctors found that a tonsillolith was present in 75 percent of the patients who had bad breath and only 6 percent who had normal breath. Smelly breath, along with a tonsil infection, is one of the main indicators that you may have tonsil stones. This direct correlation between the stones and the breath that scares your friends away only reiterates the value of maintaining good oral health.
Other possible signs
Another giveaway that you may have a tonsil stone is having a sore throat, in which pain or discomfort is bothering you where the particle is lodged. Similarly, difficulty swallowing can arise depending on the size and location of the stone. If you find white debris around the tonsil area, it is a good idea to get checked out by your doctor or dentist.
Although removing the tonsils is the only 100 percent-sure method to prevent the stones from recurring, the procedure can become increasingly dangerous the older a patient gets. Invasive surgeries are recommended only if other non-invasive strategies have not been first thoroughly tested.
Best way to prevent tonsilloliths and tonsil stones treatment
Keep your mouth clean! Poor oral hygiene allows bacteria to form and run rampant, resulting in a number of problems, ranging from bad breath to cavities to the stones. That means brush twice a day and floss regularly. Flossing is a great way to get in between teeth to pick out pieces of old food. Rinse with products in Therabreath kits to wash your mouth out and leave it feeling minty and healthy. These tonsil stones solutions target the anaerobic bacteria before the condition starts. Don't forget to visit the dentist for routine check-ups.