Need to clear your throat? Feel something in there, a little irritation that won't seem to go away? Do you have bad breath? If you answered yes to all these questions, you may have tonsil stones, which are little, naturally occurring accumulations of gunk at the back of your throat. But don't worry, because removing tonsil stones isn't all that hard.
In fact, with the aid of a specialty breath freshening mouthwash, you can get rid of them in just minutes.
How do tonsil stones get started?
These little bits of crud - also known as tonsilloliths - aren't all that mysterious. They come from nothing more complicated than food particles and bacteria.
As you swallow each bite you eat, the proteins and fats in your food slide past your tonsils. If these little globular organs are healthy, they'll be smooth enough to allow food particles to slide right past.
But if your tonsils are inflamed - or have ever swollen up from tonsillitis - then they can develop small wrinkles and folds in them called "crypts." These nooks snag passing food, on which microbes immediately begin feasting.
The rest is cyclical
From there, the tonsil stone grows in a cycle: (1) Bacteria adhere to the food, eat, multiply and die. (2) These dead microorganisms form a sticky layer, called a biofilm, which snags for more food particles. (3) Repeat ad nauseam.
One method for removing tonsil stones is to hack or cough sharply into your palms. This can dislodge the stones. Alternatively, you may want to gingerly push them loose using a cotton swab.
However, the best way to get rid of tonsilloliths is to gargle twice a day with an alcohol-free specialty mouthwash. This will gradually erode the stone, to the point that it will eventually pop loose on its own.