Tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones, are lumps of calcified material that form within the crevices of the tonsils, which are fleshy pads located at the back of the throat. The tonsils contain lymphocytes, which are cells that the body produces to help fight and prevent infections from forming.
The tonsils, in general, play a huge role when it comes to immune system function because they are able to trap bacteria and virus particles that cause illness such as the common cold and flu. When the tonsils are not functioning properly, bacteria, dead cells and mucus can become stuck inside the tonsil pockets and become calcified, forming white stones that are difficult to cough up, have an unpleasant odor and taste.
Sometimes, these stones can cause soreness, dryness and itching in the throat along with redness and inflammation. Thankfully, there are ways to treat tonsil stones effectively with home remedies and over-the-counter oral care products.
What are some of the treatments for tonsil stones?
There are various treatments for removing the stones from the tonsils. One of the ways is by removing the stones physically with a cotton swab, if they are visible. Another remedy is salt-water gargles that help loosen the stones from the pockets so coughing the stones up is easier.
Some people find oral care products such as herbal oral rinses that are alcohol-free work well. Oral care products not only help loosen the stones so they come out of the tonsils more easily, but also most kill the harmful bacteria that cause the stones’ odor and cause bad breath.
Gargling with hydrogen peroxide can aid in bubbling tonsil stones out of soft tissue pockets and out of the throat so symptoms of this condition abate. In rare cases, surgery is sometimes required to remove large, painful stones that make it difficult to swallow.
How to prevent tonsil stones from forming
To prevent tonsil stones from forming, removing the tonsils completely through a procedure known as a tonsillectomy is sometimes performed. A tonsillectomy is a procedure performed by an oral surgeon, usually while a person is under general anesthesia.
After the surgery, all tonsil stones will be gone, along with the tonsils, but a sore throat and swallowing difficulties will occur for a few days until the throat heals. Some of the ways to help with faster healing after undergoing a tonsillectomy include:
- Sucking on vitamin C popsicles and cough drops
- Taking daily vitamin supplements
- Sipping on warm herbal teas that soothe inflamed tissues
- Taking a few tablespoons of raw organic honey each day
- Snacking on cold foods such as fruits, yogurt, frozen yogurt and shaved ice
- Drinking plenty of cool water
- Getting plenty of rest
- Taking herbal supplements such as Echinacea to keep the immune system strong and promote faster healing
- Restrict the amount of talking
- Rinse with salt water gargles throughout the day
American Sinus Institute
One method that can help prevent tonsil stones from forming in the first place is by preventing sinus issues from occurring. Often, when sinus issues occur, it causes post-nasal drip which can lead to bacteria dripping down the back of the throat and into the tonsil pockets creating stones.
One of the ways to prevent sinus issues from occurring is by receiving a balloon sinuplasty treatment, as offered by the American Sinus Institute. To learn more about balloon sinuplasty and preventing tonsil stones read more at the ASI website, and use this sinus symptom checker.
Contact us for additional information.