You may have tonsil stones and not even know it. They aren’t always easy to see as they can be as small as a grain of rice. While, most cases of tonsil stones will not result in greater health complications, some can produce an unpleasant odor or grow quite large and cause your tonsils to swell.
Learn more about the causes of tonsil stones, how to prevent them, and when tonsil stone removal may be necessary.
Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, occur when debris gets trapped in the crevices and pits of the gland-like structures at the back of the throat. Calcification, a process that transforms the debris into hard white or yellow deposits, creates the “stones” which may be uncomfortable for some.
Tonsils have one major function: to help stop the spread of bacteria from the mouth into the throat. However, they don’t always do their job very well. As mucus, debris, and food flood into the different nooks of the tonsil, a formation begins to build up. As the buildup hardens it forms into a tonsil stone.
Causes of tonsil stones include:
A good oral care routine can help clean debris from the mouth, potentially lessening what can get trapped in the tonsils. With the right toothbrush you can remove more food debris and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth, gums, and tongue.
Oral-B electric toothbrushes use a round a brush head that surrounds each tooth as it cleans to remove 100% more plaque bacteria than a manual and are gentle enough to clean the tongue too.
Tonsil stones can vary in size. In fact, some people may not even realize they have them. In instances where the tonsil stones are larger in size, symptoms may include:
If you find yourself with any of the above symptoms, see your healthcare provider right away for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Tonsil stones are usually harmless and go away on their own, however, when symptoms are more severe, a course of treatment may be required.
There are a couple of home remedies your doctor may recommend when it comes to relieving the symptoms of tonsil stones, these include:
It is not recommended to remove tonsil stones at home, you may risk damaging the tonsil glands and worsening the condition. Medical procedures for tonsil stone removal include:
Since tonsil stones are formations of debris and bacteria buildup, preventing them can be relatively simple when the proper steps are taken, this includes following a complete oral hygiene routine.
In addition to a thorough oral care routine, it’s important to drink plenty of water in order to prevent tonsil stones. Hydration helps limit buildup and keep saliva production up for a healthy mouth.
If your tonsil stones continue to be a problem and are painful, see your medical professional right away for treatment.
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