Reviewed by Dr. Alan Baughman, DMD, MBA
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are small, hard, and often foul-smelling deposits that form in the tonsils. These mysterious white or yellow stones at the back of the throat can cause discomfort and leave a persistent unpleasant taste.
In this blog post, we’ll explain what causes tonsil stones, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.
Table of Contents
- What Causes Tonsil Stones?
- How To Prevent Tonsil Stones
- Tonsil Stones Treatments
- The Best Dentist in Greeley, CO
- Frequently Asked Questions
Tonsil stones, caused by debris and bacteria buildup in the tonsils, can cause discomfort and bad breath. Good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and gargling, can help prevent and treat them. If symptoms persist, seek dental treatment at Clearwater Dentistry in Greeley, CO.
What Causes Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones are caused by a buildup of food particles, dead cells, oral bacteria, and minerals that get stuck in the tonsillar crypts (the small pockets in the tonsils). This buildup of debris can calcify over time and form hard lumps, also known as tonsil stones.
The exact cause of this buildup is still not fully understood. It is believed to be a combination of factors such as poor dental hygiene, chronic inflammation of the tonsils, and large tonsil crypts.
Tonsil Stones Symptoms
While some people may not experience any symptoms from their tonsil stones, others may have a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat
- Swollen tonsils
- Ongoing cough
- Ear pain
Tonsil stones are not the same as tonsillitis or strep throat. Tonsillitis is a bacterial or viral infection, and a bacterial infection causes strep throat. If you’re unsure about your symptoms or the severity of your condition, consult a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.
Four Things That Increase Your Risk of Tonsil Stones
- Poor oral hygiene: If you don’t brush and floss regularly, you will have more bacteria in the back of your mouth. More bacteria means an increased risk of tonsil stones.
- Medical history: If you have a history of infections and illness, especially in your throat, you have a greater risk of scarring. Scars create more pockets and areas for debris to wedge in, leading to tonsil stones.
- Chronic sinus issues: Constant mucous drainage can irritate your tonsils and lead to the accumulation of bacteria around the tissues in the back of your mouth.
- Large tonsils: Some people naturally have larger tonsils or deeper tonsil crypts, making it easier for debris to get trapped and form into stones.
How To Prevent Tonsil Stones
While there is no foolproof way to prevent tonsil stones, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting them:
- Tongue scraping: About 90% of bad breath bacteria are found on your tongue. Tongue scraping is more effective than just brushing at removing bacteria from your mouth. Try to go back as far as you can with that tongue scraper to get at the back of your mouth!
- Stop smoking: Smoking can alter the tissues in your mouth and increase the risk of tonsil stones. Not to mention, smoking causes bad breath and many other oral health issues.
- Gargle: Gargling with non-alcoholic mouthwash or warm water helps to loosen and dislodge any debris before it calcifies.
- Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss once daily to keep bacteria levels low. The most optimal time for flossing is before bed!
Check out these blogs for some helpful oral hygiene tips:
- Maintain Your Oral Health: Tips for Daily Dental Care
- How To Floss Properly: Step-by-Step Instructions
- The Importance of Regular Dental Check-Ups and Cleanings
Tonsil Stones Treatments
Some tonsil stones will work their way out on their own. For smaller stones that don’t come out on their own, at-home treatments might be enough to relieve symptoms or remove the stones.
- Gargle with non-alcoholic mouthwash. Vigorous rinsing can remove bacteria and even dislodge tonsil stones.
- Gargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation.
- Gargle with apple cider vinegar. Dilute one tablespoon into one cup of warm water.
- Cough gently. Coughing is a natural way to get rid of debris in the throat. Be careful not to cough too hard and irritate your throat or burst a blood vessel.
Don’t try to remove tonsil stones yourself by putting foreign objects in your mouth. Even using a water pick the wrong way can cause damage or cause an infection in your throat.
Visit Your Dentist
If you have persistent symptoms or recurring tonsil stones, it’s important to visit your dentist. They can help determine the best treatment options for your specific situation.
The Best Dentist in Greeley, CO
Tonsil stones cause bad breath, sore throat, and even difficulty swallowing. It’s uncomfortable and can impact your everyday life. You can help prevent tonsil stones from developing by following the tips in this blog. If you have persistent symptoms, don’t try to remove them yourself; visit a dentist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, vaping irritates the throat and can contribute to an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth, which may increase the risk of tonsil stones. Quitting vaping or smoking can help improve overall oral health and potentially reduce the risk of tonsil stones.
Yes, post-nasal drip can cause inflammation and lead to tonsil stones due to the accumulation of bacteria and debris in the throat. Manage allergies and sinus issues to help reduce symptoms.
There is no direct link between dairy consumption and tonsil stones. However, dairy products can contribute to the formation of mucus in the throat, increasing the risk of tonsil stones for some individuals. Consult your dentist for personalized advice on diet and tonsil stone prevention.
Poor oral hygiene contributes to tonsil stone formation, but it’s not the only thing. Medical history and chronic sinus issues can also play a role. Good oral hygiene is essential for oral health but may not entirely prevent tonsil stones from forming.
If you are searching for ‘tonsil stones removal near me,’ contact Clearwater Dentistry.