What Are Tonsil Stones?
As the name indicates, tonsil stones (also called tonsilloliths and tonsillar concretions) form on the tonsils, the two round, small soft tissues masses on each side of the back of the throat. Tonsils are similar to lymph nodes or glands in other parts of the body and are a vital part of the lymphatic system. The purpose of tonsils is to trap and prevent airborne particulates and other matter from entering your body and to filter lymph fluid. If your tonsils have been removed, you can’t develop tonsil stones.
Until recently, the consensus was that tonsil stones were more of an annoying anomaly than an identifiable medical issue. Sufferers were often told the problem was related to food particles in their mouth and throat. Recent studies indicate tonsil stones are clinically related to halitosis and tonsillar abscess. One study suggested tonsil stones are similar to the dental plaque that causes cavities and gum disease.
Tonsil stones are small accumulations of hardened calcium, food debris, mucus, and bacteria that collect on the tonsils of the soft palate near the roof of the mouth or at the back of the tongue. Most commonly, these stones form in the tonsil crypts; the concave pockets or folds that occur naturally in tonsils. Additional anaerobic sulfur compounds also found in the stones cause the highly offensive odor associated with this condition.
Tonsil Stones Facts
- Stones most often impact young adults (ages 20 to 40) and aren’t often seen in children or older adults.
- Stones range in color from white to light brown and are usually soft or rubbery.
- While it’s more typical for a single stone to develop on just one side, they may be numerous or impact both tonsils.
- A typical stone is about a half millimeter wide and weighs 200 to 300 milligrams, although a 14.5 centimeter tonsil stone was recorded in 1936.
- Long-term inflammation of the tonsils, repeated cases of tonsillitis, and large tonsils are all risk factors.
Symptoms and Complications
Small tonsil stones often remain undetected by an affected individual and are difficult to diagnose in the absence of definite clinical symptoms. They are often discovered coincidentally during routine dental exams, x-rays, or CT scans done for other purposes. Some are large enough that they protrude from the tonsils and resemble tiny rocks. Although they may be asymptomatic in some individuals, tonsils stones can cause a wide array of problems or complications, especially if they are larger, including:
- Foul smelling bad breath that worsens over time
- Pain or discomfort when swallowing, eating, or drinking
- Throat irritation
- Chronic or persistent coughing
- Ear discomfort
- White bumps in the throat
- White coated tongue
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Feeling of an obstruction at the top of the throat
- Difficulty breathing (if stones are big enough to block the airway)
What Causes Tonsil Stones?
Tonsils can’t always differentiate between harmful and benign particles and tend to retain tiny bits of matter. The degree of retained matter increases if the amount of lymph fluid is too excessive for the tonsils to effectively filter. Experts agree that tonsil stones are a byproduct of sulfur-producing bacteria, fungus, dead cells, food debris, and mucus that accumulate in the tiny crypts dotting the surface of the tonsils. These accumulations are associated with the growth of fungi and assorted bacteria. As the structures grow, they become calcified and resistant to antibiotic treatment. Allergies, sinus issues, or ear infections are contributing factors because they cause fluid to drain into the tonsils, creating a buildup.
How to Prevent Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones may be a sign of inadequate oral hygiene. Bad breath and tonsil stones originate from the same source — anaerobic bacteria and the detrimental effects of dry mouth. And this same bacteria can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections. Therefore, prevention starts with following a good oral healthcare routine. Brushing your teeth and flossing regularly can make you less prone to developing tonsil stones.
Unfortunately, the only surefire way to prevent tonsil stones is to remove the tonsils, although tonsillectomies are reserved for extreme cases and are most commonly performed in children who suffer from chronic tonsillitis.
How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones
Treating associated health problems can help alleviate or reduce the number of tonsil stones. If tonsil stones are asymptomatic, they can be left alone and eventually will break down on their own. It’s possible to remove tonsil stones at home, but larger
ones may require the attention of a medical professional. If you’re wondering how to remove tonsil stones yourself, here are a few DIY remedies that may help loosen them:
- Use a water flosser or other low-pressure water irrigator
- Gently swish an oxygenating mouthwash around your mouth, which will also help reduce bacteria and bad breath
- Add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle the liquid for 10–15 seconds
- Gently push up from the bottom of your affected tonsil with a cotton swab, eye dropper, or finger, which may force the stone to dislodge from the crypt
- Carefully brush with a toothbrush to dislodge small surface stones
The last two can cause damage if you’re not careful and should never be attempted by children without adult assistance. If none of these DIY remedies work, surgical removal under local anesthesia at your doctor’s office is an option, without the need to remove the tonsils. But it’s important to keep in mind that tonsil stones can recur.
Best Mouthwash for Tonsil Stones
A key component of combating tonsil stones is oxygenation. The bacteria and debris that cause tonsil stones are effectively reduced when subjected to sufficient levels of oxygen. The proprietary ingredients in TheraBreath AntiOxygen antibacterial oral rinse and concentrated AktivOxigen Serum are clinically formulated to combat bacteria responsible for tonsil stone formation and associated bad breath. These products are all natural and don’t contain any ingredients that can exacerbate this problem.
TheraBreath offers individual products that combat tonsil stones, as well as handy kits with everything you need to treat this problem. The AktivOxigen Serum and mouth wetting lozenges in the kits attack the bacteria that lead to tonsil stones, while the nasal spray cleans the sinuses, thereby helping to alleviate tonsil stones and prevent recurrence. TheraBreath Tonsil Stones Kits neutralize tonsil stones as quickly as one day after starting treatment. Available in two different versions, the deluxe one includes toothpaste and highly effective mouthwash with OXYD-8®, a highly potent, but extremely safe, pH balanced formula derived from sodium chlorite. TheraBreath tonsil stone treatment is 100% guaranteed to dissolve and prevent tonsil stones, or your money back.
Statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new therapy.